Tag: Progressive Populism

Getting the Bail-Out Right: Stimulus versus Bail-Out and Debt versus Leverage (Updated)

Burning the Midnight Oil for the Next American Revolution

Jerome a Paris at the European Tribune focuses in on the central problem of the Financial crisis, and therefore the central problem of the Bail-Out:

But, pontificating aside, the reality is that we had a large scale grand robbery of the past few years. To make it simple: the Fed printed money, gave it for free to rich people, who lent it to poor people at at nice profit instead of paying them wages; reimbursement was possible only if house prices went up, and that lasted for a while. The rich made out like bandits on their assets, financial or otherwise, and the poor thought they were more or less keeping up with the Joneses (the reality was a large-scale transfer of wealth from one group to the other, no bonus points for guessing which was which). Now that it’s no longer the case, the poor lose their house, stop paying their debt at some point, put the banks in a pickles, and the economy unravels. Except that the banks are being bailed out, which means, fundamentally, saving the owners of financial assets (bank bondholders specifically, and bond holders in general) at the expense of taxpayers, thus having the goverment validate and consolidate the past transfer of wealth.

So leverage is the central problem … or rather, the central problems:

  • For those looking to hold onto their ill-gotten gains, how to maintain the maximum amount of wealth while they deleverage, which means how to convert what was always in a large part fantasy wealth into actual claims on actual productive capacity
  • For the other 99% of us, how to prevent those who obtained fantasy wealth from converting it into real wealth at our expense

Transport Stimulus: Doing It Right

Adapted from an entry at Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence … links to crossposts may be found there.

OK, so, to make an egregiously long story merely excessively long, a very strange thing happened on the road to the Stimulus Package. As Rep. Oberstar told the U.S. Conference of Mayors:

That is why we set forth this $85-billion initiative from our committee. It’s been reduced in the final going. We expect that it’ll come out somewhere around $63 billion, but $30 billion for highways.

The reason for the reduction in overall funding … was the tax cut initiative that had to be paid for in some way by keeping the entire package in the range of $850 billion.

As I described in Transport Stimulus: You’re Doing It Wrong, actual effective stimulus spending was shortchanged — and in particular spending with substantial long term economic and strategic benefits — to “pay for” tax cuts.

In reality, if we want to be able to “afford” tax cuts, what we need first and foremost is growth, and economic growth requires effective government investment in the infrastructure of a New Energy Economy.

Midnight Oil Spill for Christmas … Happy Holidays!

Burning the Midnight Oil is the evolution of the Midnight Oil series that evolved on Daily Kos earlier in the year.

Burning the Midnight Oil is a place for me to compose diaries that normally end up crossposted hither and yon, normally including Docudharma. It also has an eclectic RSS sidebar of some interesting blogs, but there are more interesting examples elsewhere on the Intertubes.

It also has a regular series of “New Oil” posts of links encountered on my way around the blogosphere, which then becomes “Burning Fires” as the next lantern is opened up to get its New Oil.

Since there’s only been one visitor to the Midnight Oil that I am aware of, I thought as a Christmas pressie, I’d share the New Oil for the last two months.

A Midnight Thought on Progressive Solidarity

Excerpted from Burning the Midnight Oil for Progressive Solidarity,

in the Burning the Midnight Oil blog-within-a-blog, graciously hosted by the good people at Progressive Blue.

Progressive Solidarity … its a core concept for building a progressive change coalition. It is, indeed, a core concept for Progressive Populism itself. It says, “You got such a great idea for fixing things? Don’t just put it out there and then blame people for not ‘getting it’. Go out an earn their attention by finding out what they say they need and working for it.”

Its not exclusionary. If someone is willing to step forward on an important issue … even someone who is not going to be a partner in the change coalition … even a moderate conservative like Colin Powell who was and continues to be wrong on one of the central foreign policy decisions in our nation in our time … accept it.

When Colin Powell says, in his endorsement of Senator Obama for President:

But right now we’re also facing a very daunting period.  And I think the number one issue the president’s going to have to deal with is the economy.  That’s what the American people are worried about.  And, frankly, it’s not just an American problem, it’s an international problem.  We can see how all of these economies are now linked in this globalized system.  And I think that’ll be number one.  The president will also have to make decisions quickly as to how to deal with Iraq and Afghanistan.  And also I think the president has to reach out to the world and show that there is a new president, a new administration that is looking forward to working with our friends and allies.  And in my judgment, also willing to talk to people who we have not been willing to talk to before. Because this is a time for outreach.

… I have no doubt that the economic solutions he would most prefer and those that I would most prefer will not be the same solutions … I have not doubt that the foreign policy stance he would most prefer and the one that I would most prefer will not be the same stance … I have not doubt that the terms on which he would wish to “work with our allies” would not be the same as the terms that I would favor.

Colin Powell is, after all, a “moderate Republican” in a time when being a “moderate Democrat” would be considered a center-right political position in most of the industrial world. We almost certainly have different views on how things should be done.

However …

Midnight Thought on Breaking the Silicon Cage

The key factoid to be used here is the National Petroleum Reserve. 9.1b barrels of oil. As much or more than ANWR (h/t psychbob).

The sharp edge of the ax is the fact that everyone who is persuadable hates oil companies and their bloated profits.

The tie is simple: “9.1b barrels of barrels of the National Petroleum Reserve. As much or more than ANWR. So why do the Oil Companies want ANWR? Is it because they want the price of oil and gas to go down? Why would they want that?

Its because its cheaper to drill in ANWR, so it will give them more profits from the same amount of oil.

The two wings of the progressive populist movement?

Also available at the Red-Green-and-BlueStar

In a recent Burning the Midnight Oil (well, recent outside of the day-by-day time-scale of a hot primary fight), I thought a little bit about why progressive & populist is stronger than either alone.

Populism without progressivism risks pandering to the least common denominator of the prejudices and ignorances of a majority. And all too often, a populism built on ignorance becomes nothing more than a smokescreen for the beneficiaries of the status quo to hide behind.

Progressivism without populism risks leaving the majority behind, so that when the unintended (and unforseeable) consequences of reform are experienced, it becomes the point of leverage for the forces of reaction trying to undo the reform.

And thinking about the complementarity between progressivism and populism, where the two together are more than the sum of their parts, in combination with phrases I commonly repeat, it got me thinking about a different kind of potential complementarity.

Midnight Thought on Living Energy Independence

Excerpted from Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence (8 August 2008), in the Burning the Midnight Oil blog-within-a-blog, hosted by the EENR

Would California have HSR today if it had been settled by France? That’s what Michael Mahoney argued last Friday in the SFGate Open Forum.

The French, according to Mr. Mahoney, have a straightforward approach. The High Speed Rail train leaves the city on regular tracks running like an ordinary interurban express. When it gets out into the countryside, the HSR tracks start and it kicks up to full speed … 220mph and over, depending on the specific train. Then when it gets to into the urban area of its destination, it switches to regular tracks and back to running like an interurban express.

Most of the route is through the countryside, and that’s where its cheapest to build … both directly, and in terms of cutting down on the cost of overpasses.

SO … what did they do in California?

Midnight Thought on How not to talk to Progressive Populists during the campaign


I know that it is all the fad to use the term “progressive” in the American radical left, moderate left, and moderate right. But sometimes its used in a way that really cheeses me off.

The Secret Ballot in New York, early 1900’s

I first encountered references to progressive populism while in High School in the 70’s, while in college in the early 80’s realized that I am a progressive populist, and indeed some of my time and effort in graduate school in the early 90’s was spent in mastering the basics of the American Institutional approach, which was originally established on the foundation of the American Pragmatism that provided the philosophical underpinnings of American Progressivism.

The 17th Amendment

Someone who argues that the differences between Senator McCain and Senator Obama are not big enough to justify voting for Senator Obama may be a leftist, they may be a radical, they may be a Liberal (in the American as opposed to European/Australian sense), they may be a whatever-you-wanna-callit … but I cannot fathom how anyone can style it as “progressive”.

So, if you are talking to a Progressive Populist during the campaign, trying to talk them into voting for Nader (or trying to talk them into voting for Barr, since pragmatically it means the same thing), don’t do it by first presuming that you are speaking for all progressives. Not unless you are sketching out a pragmatic political strategy for making progress.

Midnight Thought on the Next American Revolution

Now in the Midnight Oil … also up at Agent Orange, so tipping and rec’ing that diary might help get the word out in a small way.

What do you do when you are a Congressional candidate … your Presidential candidate is campaigning on the basis of Potemkin Energy policies like drilling for an extra 100,000 barrels of oil a day starting a decade from now (when a Saudi announcement of an extra 500,000 barrels later this year did not move prices by any discernable amount) … and a gas tax holiday …

… especially when in the last contentious Ohio State highway funding fight, you as the Republican voted for Governor Taft’s gas tax hike, and your Democratic opponent voted against it?

Simple: you lie.

Well, of course, this is a Republican candidate for Congress we are talking about here … you don’t lie yourself, you have an “independent group” with a name like Freedom’s Watch lie for you.

Midnight Thought on the Next American Revolution (14 May 08)

Excerpted from Burning the Midnight Oil for the Next American Revolution (14 May 08),

in the Burning the Midnight Oil blog-within-a-blog, hosted by kos,

though to the best of my knowledge he doesn’t know it.

Lets not be under any illusions about the difficulty of the coming election.

And that is: if there is any difficulty, we have made it for ourselves. We are being handed the opportunity of a generation on a silver platter. And while many of use have been distracted by the side issue of who is going to be nominated to run for the Presidency, in another week or so there will be no more excuse for getting sidetracked.

And we can turn our attention to building a House majority so large that the so-called “Blue Dogs” lose their leverage.

Midnight Thought on the Economics of Freedom (9 May 08)

Excerpted from

Burning the Midnight Oil for the Economics of Freedom (Fri May 09, 2008),

in the Burning the Midnight Oil blog-within-a-blog

(hosted by kos, though as far as I know, he doesn’t know it).

What is the Economics of Freedom?

The Economics of Freedom from Want?

The Economics of Freedom from Despair?

The Economics of Freedom from Tyranny?

The Economics of Freedom for our Children and Grandchildren to Enjoy the Same?

Midnight Thought on the Next American Revolution (28 April 08)

Excerpted from Burning the Midnight Oil for the Next American Revolution (28 April 08), in the Burning the Midnight Oil blog-within-a-blog, hosted by kos,

though to the best of my knowledge he doesn’t know it.

Roiling through the blogosphere in a slow boil is the fact that the Administration has been caught red-handed engaged in the crime of the precise kind of torture that we tried and convicted Japanese for after WWII … and for the mess media, the oligopress, its not really any big deal.

And of course it wouldn’t be. Avoiding absolutes of right and wrong is precisely what the “he said / she said” style of journalism is supposed to avoid. And there cannot be anything more absolute than the question of whether you will engage in torture … no ends every justify means that do not work, so torture is not only an evil, but an evil that can never be justified on the basis of preventing any greater evil.

The only word I can use to describe it is abomination.

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