Interconnections

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economy

Are we all in love with Elizabeth Warren yet?

Steve Benen provides a partial transcript of this clip:

“I hear all this, you know, ‘Well, this is class warfare, this is whatever,’” she said. “No. There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody.

“You built a factory out there? Good for you. But I want to be clear: you moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for; you hired workers the rest of us paid to educate; you were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did.

“Now look, you built a factory and it turned into something terrific, or a great idea? God bless. Keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.”

One of the things I love about EW is that she sees and clearly articulates how the economy is a web of interconnections, each part supporting or being supported by the other parts.

One of the things that has long driven me bats about “conservatives” is that they don’t see that. They don’t see how allowing bridges to rot hurts them, even if they never drive over those bridges personally. They don’t see how making higher education too expensive hurts them. They don’t see how under-funding public education hurts them. They don’t see how letting someone else’s family get buried (possibly literally) in medical bills hurts them. They don’t see how allowing a predatory banking system to rip millions of other Americans out of their homes hurts them.

The hurt may not be immediate, but when one part of the system fails it sets off a ripple of effects that damages other parts. If the overall system is strong it can absorb some failures here and there so that the shocks are localized and contained. But when there are a lot of big failures causing widespread damage to the system, and no one is stepping in to repair the damage, eventually it’s all going to fail.

Very simply, that’s what caused the Great Depression. It wasn’t any one thing. The allegedly strong economy attributed to Calvin Coolidge was a volatile boom-and-bust sort of critter that allowed some people to get rich but left millions behind. And it collapsed like a house of cards because the all-glorious free market did not repair the damage from several smaller failures, and the Coolidge/Hoover administration refused to intervene. Bad for business, you know.

You can see EW’s complex thinking at work in this Morning Joe clip. Someone asked her about China as a dominant military power, and she began to answer that China is investing some significant part of its GDP in infrastructure and technological development, and someone interrupted her and said, no, no, we’re talking about China’s military, not China’s economy. And Warren said, but they go together. The military and economic dominance that China is building are of a piece.

I still don’t think the bobbleheads got that. But what do we call a nation with a big, expensive military and a stagnant, unproductive economy? The USSR.

Part of our problem is that too many Americans have bought an ideology about what’s supposed to be good for business that looks at business in a vacuum, as if all the other parts of the system — such as sound infrastructure, an educated and healthy workforce, and lots of consumers with disposable income — don’t matter. In fact, the thinking is that we have to sacrifice those things in order to pump more money directly into business. This is insane.

As long as business executives get lots and lots of untaxed money, they will grow jobs and make the economy better, they say. The fact that business is losing customers because the working middle class is being squeezed out of existence doesn’t seem to register. And it doesn’t seem to register with business owners, either.

So you’ve got Rick Perry thumping his chest and saying he grew jobs in Texas by lowering taxes, cutting health care spending, and shredding environmental and consumer protection to lure business from other states. So how is that race to the bottom supposed to work nationally? Are we going to cut wages and working conditions even more to lure business from India?

And even then, right now Texas has its highest unemployment rate in 25 years. Way to go, Perry.

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16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. Andrew  •  Sep 22, 2011 @10:02 am

    Great post. Another way of phrasing this the end of externalities. We need to recognize that the economy, the earth and life itself is a closed, all-embracing system. There is no out there from which to draw goods or into which which can eject bads. There is only “in here” which happens to be where we all live.

  2. Chief  •  Sep 22, 2011 @11:04 am

    When ever I have had the opportunity to hear Ms. Warren speak on TV, it seems that she taylor’s her vocabulary to the audience. I have never felt that I am being talked down to. I have always felt that she is explaining a complex subject in every day words.

    If I lived in Massachusetts, I’d be volunteering for her campaign.

  3. twtfltrd  •  Sep 22, 2011 @11:12 am

    “They don’t see how allowing bridges to rot hurts them, even if they never drive over those bridges personally”

    Many conservatives live in a fantasyland, one created and nurtured by the corporate media, right wing religious Fascists, 2nd amendment purists and big business special interests. They have this fantasy that they will always survive because they have their liberty, faith and most of all they have their guns (see Andrew Brietbart). Who needs a bridge they’ll shoot there way across the river. It’s silly of course but that’s how many of them think. FAUX, Regent Univ, the Chamber, the NRA, etc. have created this fantasyland, and the ever dwindling intelligence of our electorate ensures it will be viable for years to come.

    Last night while CNN and MSNBC where covering the murder of an innocent man in GA, FAUX was 100% non-stop bad news anti-Obama propaganda. I watched in amazement as one right wing quack after another spewed one lie after another, nonstop. It makes you wonder if people can actually sit through that and believe it, what will ever change their minds?

  4. c u n d glag  •  Sep 22, 2011 @11:23 am

    She did a great job against Cup o’ Schmoe and the Hack Brothers – Mark HACKperin and John HACKman.

    This is how Democrats need to talk to people.
    This, and what she said the other day are so simple.
    And if a good chunk of the Democrats weren’t in bed with corporations, this is how more of them could, would, and should, speak.

    Leave Wall Street to the Republicans.
    One party should be enough for them.
    Come back to Main Street. And, until the SCOTUS assigns apportions votes to dollars, there are more votes there than in the halls of the job-killing “Job Creators.”

  5. Anniecat45  •  Sep 22, 2011 @11:44 am

    Re Texas, it’s also been pointed out to me that a lot of the jobs there stem from the oil industry, which can’t be outsourced to another state.

  6. Felicity  •  Sep 22, 2011 @12:08 pm

    Every time I find myself, in the course of a news broadcast, having to listen to Bachmann or Palen what immediately comes to mind is how many millions of women are out here (who are the caliber of Warren) could be running for president, aren’t, so why and how did the electorate end up with only these two disasters.

  7. erinyes  •  Sep 22, 2011 @3:54 pm

    “so why and how did the electorate end up with only these two disasters.”
    Well felicity, they put the “sizzle” in the (mis)steak.
    Flash ‘N trash.
    Mamma Grizzlies and pit bulls with lipstick.
    Jersey Shore and hillbilly hand fishin’.
    I can’t believe I’m quotin’ Rosanne Barr, but she once said…..
    “there’s nothin worse than trailer trash with money.”
    ‘cept maybe trailer trash with no money, no job, and plenty of guns and anger.

  8. Dolorous Stroke  •  Sep 22, 2011 @4:22 pm

    Today, Rush Limbaugh called Warren a “parasite who hates her host, willing to destroy the host while she sucks the life out of it.”

    So she must be doing something right.

  9. moonbat  •  Sep 22, 2011 @4:30 pm

    I’m definitely in love with EW after seeing her in the Morning Joe interview. Not only does she get all these interconnections, but she can explain them clearly and convincingly even to a skeptical audience. I thought I’d never see someone like her in my lifetime, that we were all doomed to a future of endless conservative mind numbing pablum, spouted by Democrats as well as Republicans.

    After many years of studing the phenomenon, I have a shorthand for what you’ve been talking about – conservatives who cannot or will not see the interconnections. They are the stupid people. The blind people. The ones who are unable or unwilling to see that fixing something over there helps them. Every country has them, but they managed to muscle out the smart people who can see things beyond the ends of their noses. They’re the height of self-absorption and immaturity.

  10. Swami  •  Sep 22, 2011 @5:23 pm

    They have this fantasy that they will always survive because they have their liberty, faith and most of all they have their guns

    Listen to the words of the Redneck National anthem…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWC8liHX_G8

    They just swill that nonsense down! They can’t get enough of that fantasy. The ultimate intoxicant…audio heroin.

  11. maha  •  Sep 22, 2011 @6:26 pm

    Today, Rush Limbaugh called Warren a “parasite who hates her host, willing to destroy the host while she sucks the life out of it.”

    Not a bad description of Rush Limbaugh, actually.

  12. uncledad  •  Sep 22, 2011 @10:58 pm

    Today, Rush Limbaugh called Warren a “parasite who hates her host, willing to destroy the host while she sucks the life out of it.”

    What really sucks is not that R#sh gets paid so much to say so little, it’s that the imbeciles that know so little listen so much. It’s sad to think that real people are actually driving around listening to him, and many are not laughing.

  13. uncledad  •  Sep 22, 2011 @11:24 pm

    Are we all in love with Elizabeth Warren yet?

    When I hear Ms. Warren I hear reason, I also assume she is most likely a bit smarter than most, she seems pretty bright. If we had a real bar by which to measure she would beat almost anyone anytime. But the mis-informers will compare her to SP and bat-shit crazy as women only. They will use the fact that she has reason as proof that she’s not real.

  14. Candide  •  Sep 23, 2011 @2:24 am

    Elizabeth Warren is the person I would like to see running for president. I know she is only running for the senate now – I certainly hope she wins. Senator today, president tomorrow.

  15. Theo  •  Sep 23, 2011 @7:25 am

    Good point, Anniecat45, about how Texas can’t outsource oil industry jobs. That thought hadn’t occurred to me.

    Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm was on The Daily Show last night. She talked about how luring companies from other states was not creating jobs, but simply moving them from one state to another and that this is not a viable method of growing the economy. (And she admitted that, as governor, she tried this same tactic.)

  16. BJohnM  •  Sep 26, 2011 @4:15 pm

    I remember being in an argument with a former classmate turned right-wing idiot. He was all about how government should get out of everything…the private sector can always do it best. When I asked him if using government services and programs was so bad, would he agree now, the public forum that is Facebook to agree to never file for Social Security, never again drive on a public highway, and never call the local police or fire department (all things we’ve agreed to do together). It was about then when he quit responding. Funny how that all works. Several other followers of the conversation goaded him to answer. They thought it was a legitimate question. He just ignored them.

    The thing is, they really do know better, but like sounding like John Boehner and Rush Limbaugh, and everyone on Faux news. They think it makes them sound smart to repeat the BS they heard from their heros. When you make them think about it…they can only run and hide.



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