Ask What You Can Do for Your Country

What can I do for my country? you ask. You can email this chart to everyone you know.

Accompanying text:

Since 1929, Republicans and Democrats have each controlled the presidency for nearly 40 years. So which party has been better for American pocketbooks and capitalism as a whole? Well, here’s an experiment: imagine that during these years you had to invest exclusively under either Democratic or Republican administrations. How would you have fared?

As of Friday, a $10,000 investment in the S.& P. stock market index* would have grown to $11,733 if invested under Republican presidents only, although that would be $51,211 if we exclude Herbert Hoover’s presidency during the Great Depression. Invested under Democratic presidents only, $10,000 would have grown to $300,671 at a compound rate of 8.9 percent over nearly 40 years.

You can also email this article titled “The Simple Arithmetic of Employment: Job Growth Is Always Higher When a Democrat Is In The White House.”

[Update: The email function for the above article seems to be busted. You can email this post instead; see “Email This” link at the end of the post.]

So why is it so many people believe Republicans are better for the economy? Because Republicans say they are. Over and over and over. With great conviction. I’m sure they believe it. But they are nuts.

For that reason, I think Harold Meyerson is jumping the gun a bit in his column “The God That Failed.”

Today, conservative intellectuals might want to consider writing a tome on the failure of their own beloved deity, unregulated capitalism. The fall of the financial system has been so fast and far-reaching that there’s been no time to fully consider its implications for the reigning economic theology of the past 30 years. But with the most right-wing administration in modern American history scurrying to nationalize the banks, the question cannot be elided indefinitely.

What exactly do economic conservatives believe now that their god is dead? What’s become of the glories of privatized Social Security? Of the merits of 401(k)s vs. defined-benefit pensions?

Meyerson assumes the ideologues pay attention to the real world. Although I think the True Believers will have a harder time pushing their unregulated capitalism privatization is best trickle down supply side swill in the near future, they will not lose faith in it. They’ll blame George Bush for this little glitch of a global financial crisis somehow, but say their theories are still correct, and Bush simply didn’t adhere to them faithfully enough.

Meanwhile, nearly 70 percent of Americans now want stricter regulation of the financial sector. From the Los Angeles Times:

“I always thought the least amount of government in people’s lives, the better,” said Bagley, 29, a poll respondent who was contacted in a follow-up interview. “But now you see what happens when you take it to the extreme.”

Exactly. The problem with wingnuts is that they can think only in extremes. Judging by their rhetoric, they think there are only two kinds of government — totalitarian communism or laissez-faire libertarianism. And they apply something like a one-drop rule to judge which is which — even one drop of un-laissez-faire libertarian policy renders a nation into a Stalinist gulag. For this reason, they cannot be worked with. Either vanquish them, or surrender.

So they cannot be educated. But, apparently nearly 70 percent of the American people can be educated, which is no bad thing. Now is the time for progressives like us to do everything we can to educate our fellow citizens about economic reality. It’s what we can do for our country.

See also:

The death of the Washington consensus? Paul Krugman’s Nobel prize for economics signals the intellectual tide is turning against unrestricted free trade” by Kevin Gallagher.

Misplaced Blame,” New York Times editorial

Let’s Spend Money” by Dean Baker

12 thoughts on “Ask What You Can Do for Your Country

  1. I hate to rain on this parade, but if you get rid of both the outliers, as opposed to just Hoover, the data for Democratic presidents looks a lot less favorable in that NYTimes chart.

  2. sammybaby — If you toss out Clinton, Bush II, Nixon and Hoover, the Republicans would beat the Dems. And if I were a giraffe, I’d be taller. The point is not that a Dem always does better, but that over time the GOP has done worse.

  3. I think you are right that a little thing like facts won’t make a dent on right-wing theorists. I mean, it’s not like those of us who’ve actually read our history haven’t been saying “Um, it doesn’t work that way…” for quite a while now, only to see them drive the world economy into the ditch. One of the hardest parts of the last few weeks has been resisting the urge to say “I told you so.”

    The ray of sunshine is that, while the wingers won’t change their tune, most regular folks will start to see them as lunatics, not authorities on the subject. I expect the phrase “Yeah, George Bush thought that and ended up having to nationalize the banks” will make a good rejoinder to a variety of right-wing economic arguments for a long time.

  4. Bob Schieffer of CBS, a journalist I have some respect for (although his Texas-born partiality to W. emerged now and then over the years), is moderator for the third and final debate tonite. Everyone is wondering how McCain will bring his promised “Bill Ayers” attack to the floor.

    I saw a T-shirt yesterday that read “Bill Ayers – Who Cares?” Apparently McCain does. However, the debate rules, unless they are violated all around, will probably work against any kind of sustained attack with no follow-up questions, etc. Both sides, but especially the Republicans, worked hard to keep these debates as non-debate-ish as possible, and McCain (and Obama) may regret it afterward.

    If Schieffer spends as much time tonite as Brokaw did insisting on the rules, this could be another potentially boring event.

    Under The LobsterScope

  5. George Soros put his finger on it when he said that the market is flawed because all human constructs are flawed.

    For some reason conservative capitalist’s belief in the flawlessness of the free-market reminds me of Dr. Pangloss, the eternal optomist who faced unrelieved adversity all the time believing that it’s impossible for things not to be as they are, for everything is for the best.

  6. The counter argument (which I don’t believe, but have heard from wingnuts) is that Republican administrations did stuff which subsequently created the benign markets during Democratic rule. IOW, Democrats are the beneficiaries of astute Republican policies. Right.

  7. Yes moonbat, that’s called “magic lag”. Over at Angry Bear, Cactus has had a long series of posts over the past few years comparing presidents on many issues, and on all economic issues, Democrats always crowd up in the top spots, Republicans always cover all the bottom spots.

    Wingnuts claim it’s “magic lag”. They don’t use the “magic” part, but here’s why it’s “magic”. The lag is always just enough to trace any good economic performance back to a Republican, anything bad back to a Democrat. So, for instance, bad economy under Jimmy Carter (when you loook at the actual numbers, he actually did very well on many things like jobs and growth in GDP) happened intanstaneously, but bad stuff under Reagan… that took a few years, cause Carter caused it. Bad economics late in Reagan’s second term, and under GHW Bush? That too can be traced back to Carter. Good things under Clinton are traced back to Reagan/Bush, even the rapid acceleration that happened after he passed his economic stimulus package that the Republicans said would wreck the economy (and they all voted against it). And so on; the lag magically changes to whatever number of years it takes to trace the bad to Democrats and the good to Republicans.

    There are a number of other wingnut apologetics (Congress did it, etc.) which Cactus also examines. He’s got a book coming out, Presidential Performance, which bundles all these charts and posts. His numbers are official US government figures.

  8. QrazyQat – “magic lag” – I like that. Gonna remember it next time this argument is trotted out.

  9. Liberals like to play fast and loose with some of this stuff. If something bad happened during Clinton’s term, they call him “The best Republican President of my lifetime”, but the good stuff, then he is the “Big Dawg”.

    It might also be worth noting that Nixon governed as a large social spender while LBJ cut taxes on the wealthy. Excesses of both parties take time to get sorted out. If job growth sucks for 2009-2010, is that going to be Obama’s fault?.

    These arguments are kind of lame, if we want to put another spin on Dem Vs Rep, Dems are more likely over the past 100 years to get us into war, eventhough they claim they are the party of diplomacy.

  10. while LBJ cut taxes on the wealthy.

    You’re talking about the “Kennedy” tax cut that LBJ signed into law, right? You can’t compare tax policies of the early 1960s that Kennedy dealt with to tax cutting today. The tax structure was way different then.

  11. Oh, that’s much better than the link from your previous post on the parties and the economy. MUCH better. Love the visual effect of the blue and red arrows. Thanks!

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