Morning Report – Lots of economic data 5/1/14

Vital Statistics:

Last Change Percent
S&P Futures 1876.9 -1.0 -0.05%
Eurostoxx Index 3198.5 0.1 0.00%
Oil (WTI) 99.17 -0.6 -0.57%
LIBOR 0.223 -0.001 -0.22%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 79.5 0.027 0.03%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.65% 0.01%
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 105.9 0.0
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 104.7 0.0
BankRate 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.26

 

Markets are flattish after some decent economic data. Bonds and MBS are flattish. Markets should be somewhat less liquid today as much of the world celebrates Labor Day.

April Auto sales continue to stream in – GM reported a better than expected increase, while Ford reported a drop. Nissan literally blew the doors off with an increase of 18.3%. Public construction was down .6% month-over-month and is down .8% year over year. Of course after this past winter, the Northeast is going to see a lot of construction on the roads, fixing all the potholes.

The ISM Manufacturing Index came in better than expected, at 54.9. Employment is accelerating, and customers’ inventories are very low, which portends future production (and economic growth). If you annualize out the ISM April reading, it would correspond to a real GDP growth rate of nearly 4%. Of course manufacturing isn’t the percent of the economy it used to be, but still…

Construction spending rose .2% in March, after February was revised downward to a .2% decline. On a year-over-year basis, it is up 8.4%. Residential construction rose .7% month-over-month and is up 15.2% year over year. Of course with low double digit increases in average selling prices, that doesn’t necessarily correspond to big unit volume, which is why employment lags.

Personal Incomes rose .5% in March and Personal Spending rose .9%. Part of the increase in spending is obamacare-related so it isn’t really an apples-to-apples comparison. Still, it was a good number, but probably represents some pent-up demand from the bad winter.

Challenger and Gray announced job cuts rose 5.7%, but are still pretty low, running at a 40k pace. Telecom and Automotive sectors led way. Note these are announced job cuts (a press release). Often these cuts never materialize, or are over a long period of time.

Initial Jobless Claims rose to 344k – small increase from last week, but still a pretty good number.

The FOMC met yesterday and maintained interest rates while cutting another $10 billion a month out of asset purchases. Stocks and bonds rallied on the statement. They committed to maintaining interest rates below long-term levels even after unemployment and inflation reach the Fed’s target rates. The Fed noted that economic activity has picked up recently, which means the early Q1 slowdown was probably indeed weather-related and not indicative of an overall economic slowdown.

Credit standards are easing again, as Wells cut its minimum credit score for conforming loans to 620 from 660. TD has lowered down payments to 3% without requiring mortgage insurance. When there is not much business to go around, people start reaching for yield. Interesting stat: almost 16% of the mortgages for home purchases went to homebuyers with DTIs > 43. This is up from 2012. I suspect much of these are low LTV, asset-rich jumbo borrowers, where the ability to repay is pretty strong in spite of the high DTIs.

In a story that seems to be getting a lot of press, The Chinese economy is set to become bigger than the US this year. This sort of analysis is difficult to begin with, because China manipulates its exchange rate so economists use Purchasing Power Parity (aka the Big Mac Index) to back out what China’s GDP is. The Chinese real estate bubble is bursting as we speak, so this may be short-lived as their GDP will fall in real terms and growth will be slow as they dig out in the aftermath. Rapidly growing countries seem to have these bubble episodes – we did in the 20s, Japan did in the 80s, and China has over the past couple decades. Booms create mal-investments which sow the seeds for the boom’s destruction.

67 Responses

  1. About time!

    Geeeez.

    Frist!

    Revlot!

    Like

  2. Michi – everything you don’t like about HRC & her associates summarized:

    http://www.nationaljournal.com/daily/will-there-be-a-civil-war-in-clinton-land-20140430

    Like

  3. HRC is such a zero. It boggles the mind why anyone thinks she is even qualified for office, let alone a compelling candidate. Four years of her insufferable voice and face lecturing us are literally unimaginable. But maybe we would get the chance to hear a lot more of that faux southern black ethnic dialect. Ah ain’t no waze taaarrrrd ….

    Edit: oh pardons, it’s Ah don’t feel no waze ….

    Like

    • qb:

      It boggles the mind why anyone thinks she is even qualified for office

      Clearly people who thought BO was qualified for office are capable of thinking that anyone is qualified for office.

      Like

  4. BO the incredible shrinking President.

    I really don’t know how liberals aren’t embarrassed to support HRC and haven’t been from the start. She didn’t divorce the Big Creep. She concocted Hillarycare. She once wore a headband. She used the trappings of FLARK and FLOTUS to surround herself with toadies who told her how great she was, despite never having done much of anything herself. She denounced the vast right-wing conspiracy. She moved to NYC as soon as she could. She threw lamps and ashtrays at the government help.

    Did I miss any accomplishments?

    Like

  5. Oh wait, she made some money in the cattle business.

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  6. well there goes the vegan vote.

    Like

  7. The media will have her walking on water by the time their image rehabilitation is done.

    The media SO wants a woman president, especially a democrat…

    Like

  8. Fossil fuel extraction as the political and economic equivalent of antebellum slavery.

    http://www.thenation.com/article/179461/new-abolitionism?page=full

    & Jacobin making a good point that Hayes refuses to follow his argument to it’s logical conclusion.

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/05/a-second-civil-war/

    Of course all of these pieces on how global warming/climate change must inevitably cause capitalism to be replaced by socialism go out the door should a new clean source of energy come online, i.e. nuclear fusion.

    Like

  9. Brent, it looks like the feeling isn’t mutual between Clinton and the press corps.

    “When asked why Clinton hasn’t done more to reach out to reporters over the years, one Clinton campaign veteran began to spin several theories. She was too busy, she was too prone to speaking her mind and the like—then abruptly cut to the chase:

    “Look, she hates you. Period. That’s never going to change.””

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/05/hillary-clinton-media-105901.html?hp=t2_3

    Like

  10. The press will worship the ground she walks on once she gets the nomination, though the media has their hope pinned on Liz Warren tossing her headdress into the ring…

    Like

  11. ” should a new clean source of energy come online, i.e. nuclear fusion.”

    I think they’d rather have global warning and the catastrophe than a technological solution that saves the plant and makes someone rich.

    Like

  12. NoVA, if capitalism survives, then the whole environmental movement will be branded a failure. It was never about the environment, but like all causes on the left, it comes down to wealth and income redistribution in the end.

    Everything else associated with them is just window dressing.

    Edit – This is good:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/article/374575/new-marxism-part-two-james-pethokoukis

    Like

    • jnc:

      like all causes on the left, it comes down to wealth and income redistribution in the end. Everything else associated with them is just window dressing.

      This. Very much, this.

      Like

  13. sometimes i forget that it’s that simple.

    Like

  14. Chait piles on regarding HRC and the media.

    “Why the Clintons Can’t Handle the Media
    By Jonathan Chait”

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/05/why-the-clintons-cant-handle-the-media.html

    Like

  15. I remember once scandalizing the PLers by observing that left-wing economics has nothing to do with growth or prosperity but is entirely a project of trying to rationalize redistribution. It is all a sham, mythology for rubes. Oh the outrage. But it’s true. None of it has anything to do with anything but expropriation, punishment, control of people who did too well.

    Like

  16. I have not generally been a member of the impeachment caucus, but I’m not sure what the defense of Obama and crew is against the latest Benghazi info. Impeach.

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  17. I think it’s something about a video and that marines were killed under Reagan. in conclusion, Bush.

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  18. I personally wish Hillary wouldn’t run and I won’t ever vote for her. It would be totally awesome to see a woman run for the Presidency but even though conventional wisdom on the left will choose her, they’re wrong, and I think it’s a big mistake!

    How would you guys “simplify” the “causes” on the right? I’m just curious how you see yourselves while being so judgmental of the left. I know how I’d describe it, if I were so inclined (and a lot braver)……………………LOL

    Like

    • lms:

      How would you guys “simplify” the “causes” on the right? I’m just curious how you see yourselves while being so judgmental of the left. I know how I’d describe it, if I were so inclined (and a lot braver)

      Be brave.

      To be honest, I really can’t think of a single animating theme generally shared by all the various elements of the right. Some are driven by a desire to preserve cultural and religious traditions, others are driven by free market ideology, some are driven by states rights issues, some are driven by defense and foreign policy preferences.

      But I do think that wealth redistribution is a pretty dominant feature of nearly all left-wing politics.

      Like

  19. In all honesty Lms, I’d say the elected right’s “cause” is hypocrisy. Meaning they run on and spout about Limited Government but actually believe and vote for an ever more powerful central government. Their argument with the left really is about what an ever increasingly powerful central government should do. I’ll also say that many of the voters of the right claim to want limited government but don’t *really* want it if it effects them, as it inevitably will.

    So, for the Right writ large, I’d also say it’s redistribution.

    The jig is up as it were and all the options have been exhausted.

    It literally takes a whale years to rot while it sits on the bottom of the ocean. The slide will be slow but inexorable. I wish for a quick massive disruption now so I am young enough to provide for my family and myself. In twenty years I’ll be 68 and probably much less able, if able at all, to provide for my family and we will suffer.

    That’s why I say Revlot! Now!, so my family has a fighting chance in a new future. Purely rational self interest on my part.

    Like

  20. I just had a weird thought or two. Wouldn’t it be fun to still all be here at ATiM in 20 years kicking the can around, as it were? I’ll be 84 then but most of you guys will all finally be old as well………………..hahaha. I’m pretty sure I’ll be here still as I’m pretty damn healthy, barring some form of cancer that I’m not anticipating, but it would be really interesting to look back on your “libertarian/conservative” conversations here. I’d like to see if, or how, any of you have changed and if the doom and gloom of your outlook still exists, or if your forecasts came true even.

    Thanks for the answer McWing!

    Like

    • lms:

      Wouldn’t it be fun to still all be here at ATiM in 20 years kicking the can around, as it were?

      Sure would be, but it seems increasingly unlikely. ATiM is withering.

      Like

  21. Scott, thanks for the reply. I do think it’s odd that you seem to think conservatives are so diverse while “left-wingers” have such a zealous single purpose. I don’t believe that at all.

    ATiM is withering

    It’s a shame really because we started out with such purpose and hopes of a different kind of dialogue. It’s one of my great disappointments………..:(

    Like

    • lms:

      I do think it’s odd that you seem to think conservatives are so diverse while “left-wingers” have such a zealous single purpose.

      Do you really disagree that wealth re-distribution is the dominant political priority of the left? Sure, their are other issues that animate parts of the left (abortion, eg), but wealth re-distribution seems to me to be embraced pretty much across the board as a primary and fundamental function of government.

      Like

  22. ” It’s one of my great disappointments”

    you have no cause to be disappointed. you took a group of people from the PL — the PL!! — and turned some of them into friends in real life.

    Like

  23. Scott

    Do you really disagree that wealth re-distribution is the dominant political priority of the left?

    Of course I do. I think that your “re-distribution” is the result of priorities of some on the left but in and of itself it is not the goal of the left. In the same way there is diversity of purpose on the right there is diversity of purpose on the left. It’s actually one of the few remaining qualities of American Politics that I still find value in, and it comes from people, not politicians.

    I tend to think those types of generalizations are in many ways what actually doomed ATiM, regardless of the friend aspect which NoVA alluded to.

    Like

    • lms:

      Of course I do. I think that your “re-distribution” is the result of priorities of some on the left but in an of itself it is not the goal of the left.

      On this we definitely disagree. I am not aware of any segment of the political left that does not want to use the government to take money from some people and give it to others, either directly or via some kind of government provided benefit. This really is what defines the political left, from my standpoint.

      I tend to think those types of generalizations are in many ways what actually doomed ATiM,

      Maybe, but is it an unfair generalization? Who among the ATiM left was/is not driven by a political desire to re-distribute wealth?

      Like

  24. Some political differences are irreconcilable. I believe you work towards increased gun regulation while I’d like to repeal the Gun Control Act of either ’34 or ’36. The one written by Gore Senior ( and the Nazi’s!). Their just fundamentally different positions that defy a middle ground.

    We probably agree in principal at what point abortions should be regulated or prohibited but neither of us trust politicians or the activists on either side to get it right.

    You believe that Health Care is a Right and I do not.

    Like

    • McWing:

      Some political differences are irreconcilable.

      Yes, and I think the fact that these differences are increasingly manifesting themselves at more and more fundamental levels of thought is a huge problem for the future. Policy differences can co-exist relatively amicably provided that there still exists some shared, fundamental political value or view about the political system. But increasingly I think we lack such a shared fundamental value or view. And I think it is manifested in the inability to even communicate at times, something I have lamented here in the recent past. If we no longer share a common sense of what “freedom” or “liberty” even means, how can we possibly agree on the functions of a government ostensibly dedicated to protecting liberty, much less on the specific policies that the government ought to be implementing in its pursuit of protecting liberty?

      Our best hope of amicably accommodating disparate political views across a wide population was/is a federalist system with dispersed political power. And that system has been effectively destroyed, with power increasingly concentrated in Washington, to the cheering of many. We are destined for an ugly and even more contentious future.

      Like

  25. Scott

    This really is what defines the political left, from my standpoint

    I understand that you believe this. As I said, I believe this point of view is one of the factors that makes discussing politics here so disappointing. This is an underlying theme of our discussions here, and I mean in general not specifically to you and I, that I can never overcome. If everything I comment on, from my perspective as a liberal, boils down to this one central theme then why bother trying to overcome that sort of resentment, because that’s what it is really, resentment.

    Who among the ATiM left was/is not driven by a political desire to re-distribute wealth?

    It’s not what drives me certainly, but I doubt you actually believe that. In some ways McWing is correct that the right has the same problem. I’ll never forget during the healthcare debate those right leaning seniors carrying signs in great anger saying, “Keep your hands off my Medicare”. But then, according to you, that’s also the Left’s fault…………….LOL

    Like

    • lms:

      If everything I comment on, from my perspective as a liberal, boils down to this one central theme then why bother trying to overcome that sort of resentment, because that’s what it is really, resentment.

      I’m not sure what resentment you are referring to. Do you mean that you think I resent your advocacy for re-distributing wealth, or that you resent having your perspective characterized as advocacy of wealth re-distribution?

      It’s not what drives me certainly…

      All I have to go by is the policy preferences you advocate for. And they seem to me to pretty routinely involve using the government to re-distribute wealth.

      I’ll never forget during the healthcare debate those right leaning seniors carrying signs in great anger saying, “Keep your hands off my Medicare”.

      Well this is a good example of why I find it difficult to identify a unifying theme running through all segments of the political right. I’d like to say that opposition to wealth re-distribution is a consistent theme of right-wing policy, but as you ably demonstrate, it isn’t.

      But then, according to you, that’s also the Left’s fault…

      In the wider arc of history, of course. Whether one believes things such as SS and medicare have been a great accomplishment or a destructive policy, surely we can agree that they were policies inspired and championed by leftist ideology. If one thinks they are great policies, as I suspect you do, then the left deserves credit. If one thinks they are bad policies, as I do, then the left deserves blame.

      Like

      • Coincidentally, I just got this link from buddy of mine, about Tocqueville anticipating the rise of the welfare state way back in 1835. Reading it makes me think Tocqueville was a time traveler.

        Above these an immense tutelary power is elevated, which alone takes charge of assuring their enjoyments and watching over their fate. It is absolute, detailed, regular, far-seeing and mild. It would resemble paternal power if, like that, it had for its object to prepare men for manhood; but on the contrary, it seeks only to keep them fixed irrevocably in childhood; it likes citizens to enjoy themselves. It willingly works for their happiness; but it wants to be the unique agent and sole arbiter of that; it provides for their security, foresees and secures their needs, facilitates their pleasures, conducts their principal affairs, directs their industry, regulates their estates, divides their inheritances; can it not take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking and the pain of living?

        So it is that every day it renders the employment of free will less useful and more rare; it confines the action of the will in a smaller space and little by little steals the very use of it from every citizen. Equality has prepared men for all these things: it has disposed them to tolerate them and often even to regard them as a benefit.

        Like

  26. McWing, I agree with most of what you just said. There wouldn’t be two political parties otherwise. Where I have trouble is in the way that some of you guys here characterize the “left” in the same way, and with as much animosity and lack of clarity, as some of the worst lefties at the PL characterize the “right”. In some ways the comments here aren’t much better, just the opposite view.

    It doesn’t really matter, I don’t think, to anyone but me though. I think what we’ve actually proven here is that while we can all be friends on some level, politically there is really not much hope for compromise or respect. It’s just a fact of political life I suppose. I’m always the optimist (and naive) I guess, and was hoping for something more.

    None of that means I don’t still read the comments here in the hope of learning something or participating in a little friendly conversation. Politics isn’t friendly though and perhaps it shouldn’t be, I really don’t know anymore! Life is too short to worry about it any longer! 😉

    Like

  27. “How would you guys “simplify” the “causes” on the right? I’m just curious how you see yourselves while being so judgmental of the left. I know how I’d describe it, if I were so inclined (and a lot braver)……………………LOL”

    Shrink once characterized me as a libertarian nihilist due to my constant refrain that there’s no “we” and therefore no common good and that probably is the simplification of the right that most on the left would agree with, i.e. the notion that the results of the market are always optimal.

    I’m the one who tossed out the income redistribution comment originally and I stand by it, especially if you read the commentary by those further left than the standard issue Democrats. See for example Naomi Klein.

    http://www.thenation.com/article/164497/capitalism-vs-climate

    Wealth and income inequality are central organizing principles for the left. I’m surprised that’s viewed as controversial.

    Edit: see also

    “Climate change is not a problem that can be solved simply by changing what we buy—a hybrid instead of an SUV, some carbon offsets when we get on a plane. At its core, it is a crisis born of overconsumption by the comparatively wealthy, which means the world’s most manic consumers are going to have to consume less.”

    http://www.thenation.com/article/179460/change-within-obstacles-we-face-are-not-just-external

    It’s not about carbon or warming. It’s about getting rid of capitalism.

    Like

    • jnc:

      that probably is the simplification of the right that most on the left would agree with, i.e. the notion that the results of the market are always optimal.

      I think there is a significant populist strain of the political right that would object to such a notion, as would many in the social/religious conservative wing of the right. But it is an interesting exercise…is there a central organizing principle for the right? I really can’t come up with one that approximates that which you and I agree exists on the left.

      Like

  28. Scott,

    If I’m going to be “brave” I might as well say that I think many of you libertarians, and especially wealthy conservatives, resent “your wealth” being distributed above any political objection. And while I think that’s understandable to a point, I also think it tends to influence your objectivity.

    The main policy I’ve advocated for, in the last almost five years we’ve known each other, is a universal type health care system. The one we got isn’t the one I advocated for. The one I advocate for is one from cradle to grave and everyone pays the same cost for basic care. Beyond that, we keep the insurance industry in business by selling supplemental policies to those who can afford them, which is pretty much what Medicare does now. I imagine there will always be indigent citizens who will need some form of financial assistance at even the lowest level of care but it’s not something I’m happy about or advocate for. Most of my other priorities have nothing to do with wealth transfer. I admit to having a fondness for SS and Medicare but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think they need to be re-vamped for the 21st Century. Good luck with that from either side of the political divide though since it’s pretty much political suicide to try!

    And I think the excerpt from the link, if it was written today, would be considered hyperbolic in the extreme by many of us.

    Like

    • lms:

      If I’m going to be “brave” I might as well say that I think many of you libertarians, and especially wealthy conservatives, resent “your wealth” being distributed above any political objection.

      Yes I do. Although what I probably resent even more is the unequal treatment the tax code imposes on different people.

      The main policy I’ve advocated for, in the last almost five years we’ve known each other, is a universal type health care system.

      Yes. And the only reason to involve the government is to re-distribute wealth, taking it from others and re-distributing it to others in the form of health care.

      Most of my other priorities have nothing to do with wealth transfer.

      Such as?

      Like

  29. “But it is an interesting exercise…is there a central organizing principle for the right?”

    Deregulation and getting rid of government for the sake of getting rid of government comes closest.

    Like

  30. “If I’m going to be “brave” I might as well say that I think many of you libertarians, and especially wealthy conservatives, resent “your wealth” being distributed above any political objection. And while I think that’s understandable to a point, I also think it tends to influence your objectivity. “

    I’ll happily concede this. What I really resent is it being characterized as the common good and shared sacrifice.

    Like

  31. Jnc,

    Shrink once characterized me as a libertarian nihilist due to my constant refrain that there’s no “we” and therefore no common good and that probably is the simplification of the right that most on the left would agree with, i.e. the notion that the results of the market are always optimal.

    I’m not following the connection between optimal results of the market and a common good. Why in the world is it an either or notion?

    Like

  32. It goes to whether or not you regulate the market and use progressive taxation to redistribute income or if you let the results of the market stand as is.

    Like

  33. So it’s just a “que sera, sera” policy with no, absolutely no, compelling justification, ever, to control the outcome in regards to some form of societal benefit? That does seem a little “nihilistic” to me too.

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  34. Correct. I’ll happily work with progressives to address issues like crony capitalism and regulatory capture that may produce income inequality by distorting the market to begin with, but I reject the entire premise that there’s such a thing as someone making too much money and that it’s a problem for the government to address.

    The other part that goes to nihilism is that I don’t buy the argument that most of what’s proposed is about the common good or societal benefit. It’s more about picking a different set of winners and losers based on politics.

    Shrink’s usual retort is that there’s no such thing as a “free market” to begin with and that market outcomes are just as rigged as anything that the government does so there’s no reason that the government redistribution isn’t as legitimate as the existing results.

    Like

  35. jnc

    Now I’m confused by the statement, “I reject the entire premise that there’s such a thing as someone making too much money and that it’s a problem for the government to address”, because I reject that as well but still believe in at least a limited notion of common good, especially in regards to certain outcomes, healthcare being one, for the indigent or “unlucky” whichever the case may be.

    You may be correct about “politics” choosing winners and losers but I don’t particularly see that as a left vs right issue. I see that as a power struggle issue and it’s not exclusive to either side. I am not enamored of politicians. Obama has permanently jaded me……………seriously!

    I seldom agree with Shrink either and I mostly believe this is nothing but a game to him…………..I don’t believe he cares either way, but primarily loves the argument. I doubt he even believes half of what he says.

    Like

  36. When I refer to the “left” in that manner, it doesn’t necessarily include you then, but I do believe that I’m on solid ground when it comes to commentators and public figures.

    Prime example is Paul Krugman’s argument that tax rates should be set to 70% + not because that’s what’s needed to fund a specific set of programs but rather because tax rates should be set to give the government the maximum amount of revenue possible, full stop. No, that’s not a parody but his actual position:

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/22/taxing-job-creators/

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/the-simple-analytics-of-soaking-the-rich-wonkish/

    And others go further arguing that tax rates should specifically be designed to prevent large wealth accumulation. See all the discussion of Piketty’s book.

    Lastly, one reason I’d argue that discussion between the right and left is degrading is that there’s now a notable portion on the left that considers conservatism a literal mental disease that can be proven “scientifically”. Again, I wouldn’t lump you in with them but it’s not a negligible percentage either.

    http://www.salon.com/2014/05/01/conservatives_evil_and_psychopathy_science_makes_the_link/

    Like

  37. jnc, I’m sure you’re on solid ground when it comes to commentators and most public figures as well, but there are a lot of us, liberals more than progressives perhaps, that don’t agree with half the crap being said……………..I certainly don’t and most of our friends don’t either.

    I doubt you’ve seen me agree with Krugman, although he may have been a decent economists at one time, anytime in recent memory. And the few times I’ve mentioned any of these wild psychological theories about conservatives it was always tongue in cheek. They’re generally quite ridiculous. I was a psych major so I should know….LOL

    I think most American citizens, while not being as well informed as we could be, are nevertheless a little disgusted with politics in general and certain politicians in particular, and we don’t really think in such absolute terms as you might think.

    I used the example of conservative seniors being terrified to have their Medicare yanked out from under them. I wasn’t making fun of them, I was pointing out that there is a dichotomy of thought process on some of these issues. Medicare is a life saver for most of them and unless or until the political process allows realistic changes, most people actually realize it’s a matter of life or death………..which is not an exaggeration.

    I think a lot of you, the guys here, judge all liberals/progressives in the same negative manner that the liberal/progressives at the PL judge conservatives/libertarians. That’s why both places have become primarily dysfunctional in regards to political dialogue even though the atmosphere here is much more pleasant still.

    I’m not a special snowflake as far as liberals go and don’t need to be treated as such, that was never my desire. I would rather you all realized I’m actually not a unique liberal.

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  38. That’s fine and I wasn’t trying to make a personal attack on you but I would say that to the extent that “the left” is an organized force in American politics, it’s focused on inequality and advocates for redistribution as a solution. See the whole OWS 1% vs 99% meme.

    As it impacts the PPACA, you can see it quite clearly in who pays and who benefits. Those decisions were choices. If it was truly about the common good and everyone being in it together, then taxes would have gone up on everyone, not just a subset.

    I absolutely with David Frum that it was intentional:

    “The ACA was ingeniously designed to deliver benefits to Democratic constituencies and impose costs on Republican ones.”

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/10/29/the-obamacare-ripoff-more-money-for-less-insurance.html

    Like

  39. “I think a lot of you, the guys here, judge all liberals/progressives in the same negative manner that the liberal/progressives at the PL judge conservatives/libertarians”

    Not precisely. I don’t think you have a mental defect, are immoral, or are stupid.

    I do think that often times progressives disregard the costs of what they are proposing and only focus on the benefits and also assume that there’s a much broader consensus for what they consider “fair” than actually exists, namely that it’s fair that the rich should pay more just because they are rich (i.e. “ability to pay”) when it comes to government programs.

    Like

  40. Scott

    Yes. And the only reason to involve the government is to re-distribute wealth, taking it from others and re-distributing it to others in the form of health care.

    I already agreed to that in some form in regards to the indigent. I think you’ve even agreed to the unfortunate fact that in reality there are people who need some form of financial assistance at some point in their lives. Are there too many of them, you bet. But is it a result of economic policy and circumstances or an entitlement mentality? I don’t think it can be proven emphatically either way.

    I advocate for women’s right to an abortion without legislative interference up to a specified point in their pregnancy based on scientific fact of viability. I also advocate for property rights of the little guy when some big ass corporation with a lot of money and political clout tries to screw them over. That could be environmentally, financially, politically or otherwise.

    I think the Federal Government has an interest in Education in a limited way as far as certain basic standards being met, otherwise, I think the states can handle the details. I feel that way about many things. I think there are probably basic standards in commerce, financial, educational, environmental regulation etc. that should be universal to the country in a minimal way, but the particulars should be handled by the states. States that want to expand on those standards are free to do so through the election process. If Arkansas wants to incorporate Bible Study in a Reading, Writing and Math curriculum, I could care less since I have no plans to raise children in Arkansas.

    Like

    • lms:

      I already agreed to that in some form in regards to the indigent. I think you’ve even agreed to the unfortunate fact that in reality there are people who need some form of financial assistance at some point in their lives.

      Sure, but if the indigent is who we are talking about, a “universal” system as normally conceived is hardly necessary.

      I’ve always thought that your ideal was a single payer system, with the federal government being that single payer and using tax dollars to fund it. That would be wealth re-distribution.

      I advocate for women’s right to an abortion without legislative interference up to a specified point in their pregnancy based on scientific fact of viability.

      Fair enough.

      I also advocate for property rights of the little guy when some big ass corporation with a lot of money and political clout tries to screw them over. That could be environmentally, financially, politically or otherwise.

      Me too!

      If Arkansas wants to incorporate Bible Study in a Reading, Writing and Math curriculum, I could care less since I have no plans to raise children in Arkansas.

      Me too!

      By the way, if you are as in favor of a robust federalism as you seem to be, you really should never vote for another Democrat again. D’s are the primary reason for the destruction of federalism, largely because of the judges they elevate to the high courts, in addition to the policies for which they advocate.

      Like

  41. jnc, I may not have been clear, I’m not comparing the personal attacks prevalent at the PL to anything that goes on here. I was referring to the generalizations of our political opponents as having a specific belief system that may or may not be accurate. Personal attacks have reared their ugly head here but luckily they are infrequent. I spent some time before leaving the PL for good defending a few of you here from those personal attacks so I think everyone knows I don’t approve, and I don’t personally feel attacked here in any event.

    Anyway, enough of this conversation, in many ways comparing the PL to ATiM is like comparing apples to oranges and it wasn’t really my intention to make that kind of comparison. I was speaking in more general terms of what I believe are generalized conclusions about political opponents. I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it myself.

    I remember you describing your ideal tax system and if I remember correctly I not only approved but it had a slightly progressive level that made sense to me. Perhaps I’m just getting old though and remember it incorrectly! 🙂

    Like

  42. “I remember you describing your ideal tax system and if I remember correctly I not only approved but it had a slightly progressive level that made sense to me. Perhaps I’m just getting old though and remember it incorrectly!”

    I think you are remembering correctly. I’m for a flat tax on all income with no deductions for anything, but in the spirit of compromise I was on record with being fine with two rates, with the split set at the median income and the lower rate being 1/2 of the upper rate.

    The main point was that if government spending went up, then both rates would rise accordingly so that everyone had to pay more in taxes.

    Also, you may recall that I supported Wyden-Bennett as a way to reform the health care system.

    Like

  43. I’m not actually a Democrat…………..I thought you knew that. I happen to be in favor of SS, some form of Medicare and a universal health care system, and gay marriage, alternative energy and abortion, but only up to a point. I think taxation is a necessary evil but don’t agree with the tax code as written……………..it’s completely ridiculous. Perhaps you’ve all forgotten I worked for both John Anderson and Ross Perot……………LOL. Obama was the first D I’d voted for in a very long time and will probably be the last one I vote for as long as I live. I will also never vote for a Republican and haven’t met a libertarian I liked except for you guys here and my son.

    I don’t object to being taxed as long as the money is well spent, a very rare occurrence obviously. I do believe in a common good but not across the board, I’m picky about it.

    I consider myself a voter without a party to vote for……………..always have.

    Like

    • lms:

      Obama was the first D I’d voted for in a very long time and will probably be the last one I vote for as long as I live.

      Here’s to hoping your attitude is widely shared by ex-Obama voters.

      Like

  44. jnc

    Also, you may recall that I supported Wyden-Bennett as a way to reform the health care system.

    I did too! It wasn’t my ideal but it was certainly better than what we ended up with.

    Like

  45. I’d say you are an independent then, and not actually part of the left.

    Like

  46. I’ve never actually registered as anything other than an Independent for a reason. Of everyone here, I align myself with Mark. I think he has paid attention and would probably verify that. I do however consider myself a liberal as there are a few liberal/left/progressive issues I care about and I care about them very deeply.

    Like

    • Hi, all. Back from a vacation in Durham, NC where we looked at possible real estate investments. Reclassified 9 days of “Uncategorized” to “Morning Report”. Read this most recent discussion thread and enjoyed it thoroughly.

      Agree with Scott that federalism is the appropriate way to deal with different viewpoints and have often pointed out my antipathy to specific federal initiatives. I am tempted to point out Scalia’s lapses in this regard, but agree that overwhelming reliance on the federal government has been a spoken ideal and assumption of much of liberalism and only a selective convenience for conservative politicians, thus causing a split among conservative voters, who question the centralization of power/one size fits all. Krugman is probably more of an archetype now then a stereotype, as JNC has so often demonstrated.

      My POV is clearly most like LMS’s – skeptical of party politics, not wedded to an ideology, weighing stuff by how it worked and whether it was done efficiently.

      Most of us think we are not wedded to an ideology, but I admit my admiration for TR and deep belief in sustaining the competitive mechanism, which to me requires strong anti-trust powers in the federal government. Scott and I differ on this.

      Listened to Flash Boys as an audio book on the trip and had not imagined how different the stock market is today from when I was an NASD broker in 1964. If this has been discussed here, point me to it, please. Why the exchanges permitting co-location with HFTs wasn’t a red flag to institutional investors to begin with eludes me. I understand how dark pools could be sold to investors, but not if their contents were also open to HFTs, or even to prop traders. There’s a lot to think about here.

      Like

      • Scott [and QB] see: http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/11-1545

        JNC, you will find that ruling interesting, too.

        Like

      • Mark:

        Most of us think we are not wedded to an ideology

        I am quite happy to acknowledge that I am. I think being “wedded to an ideology” is just another way of saying one has particular, identifiable values and is principled and consistent about pursuing those values. I really don’t understand either the attraction to or the presumed virtue in being non-ideological.

        Interesting point by Jonah Goldberg:

        Like

  47. On the tax thing, I also would say there should be no withholding and taxes are due the same day (or the day before) you vote. True accountability.

    Revlot!

    Like

  48. Scott, I don’t necessarily believe it’s a virtue being non-ideological. As a matter of fact I respect those of you who are wedded to an ideology to a certain extent. I’ve just never been someone like that.

    It would certainly be easier to look at the world of politics through that frame but I really just can’t. I am inconsistent and give some issues more weight than others and so I’ve always been all over the map when it comes to voting.

    My pet issue has been health care since my niece died and you have no idea how disappointed I am in the outcome of the legislation. I am very happy our daughter now has a real insurance policy and so I can’t cry too much over the outcome however. Just one example of my inconsistency. I can celebrate and mourn at the same time……………………….which I suppose is just crazy! That’s me in a nutshell (pun intended).

    Like

    • lms:

      It would certainly be easier to look at the world of politics through that frame…

      We’ve had this conversation before, but I wonder. For example, is it really “easier” to argue for a robust federalism in all circumstances as a matter or principle regardless of whether or not it results in a preferred outcome in specific instances, or is it easier to argue for a robust federalism only when it will result in an outcome that one desires, and then simply dispense with it when it doesn’t?

      As a strong believer in individual rights, I often find myself defending the rights of loathsome people to do things I find very objectionable, but I do so out of principle. Is that somehow easier than being a staunch defender of individual rights, except in those circumstances where the individual or right in question is objectionable? Personally I think the latter is easier.

      Like

  49. New weekend thread.

    Move it there!

    Now!

    Like

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