02.20.2012 03:30 PM

Calling all progressives

Read this:

Something strange is going on in the world today. The global financial crisis that began in 2008 and the ongoing crisis of the euro are both products of the model of lightly regulated financial capitalism that emerged over the past three decades. Yet despite widespread anger at Wall Street bailouts, there has been no great upsurge of left-wing American populism in response. It is conceivable that the Occupy Wall Street movement will gain traction, but the most dynamic recent populist movement to date has been the right-wing Tea Party, whose main target is the regulatory state that seeks to protect ordinary people from financial speculators. Something similar is true in Europe as well, where the left is anemic and right-wing populist parties are on the move.

There are several reasons for this lack of left-wing mobilization, but chief among them is a failure in the realm of ideas. For the past generation, the ideological high ground on economic issues has been held by a libertarian right. The left has not been able to make a plausible case for an agenda other than a return to an unaffordable form of old-fashioned social democracy. This absence of a plausible progressive counter­narrative is unhealthy, because competition is good for intellectual ­debate just as it is for economic activity. And serious intellectual debate is urgently needed, since the current form of globalized capitalism is eroding the middle-class social base on which liberal democracy rests.

Watch this:



  1. Curt says:

    I find it quite interesting that you would use this video of rural America to support your comment above. The Liberals wrote off rural Canada for years.

    • Warren says:

      Oh, and you think the farm families losing everything are uncritical of Harper, do you?

      • Ted B says:

        Farm families do not equal the AG sector and vice versa.

        Industrial farms dominate and small family owned farms are increasingly a thing of the past. Harper’s corporate subsidy regime and ending the Canada Wheat Board have only sped up this process.

        Look at any ag study, including the mandatory ag census (how they can whine about the invasion of individual rights when it comes to the 140 year old long form census, but defend the importance of a mandatory ag census is a mystery for someone else to figure out), and you’ll see the decline every year of the family-owned farm in favour of the corporate farm and now even the global corporate farm company.

        You can argue whether that is a good or a bad thing, but it is a definite thing.

        • Ted B says:

          No you could, theoretically, go to jail or get fined for non-compliance. The Cons didn’t change that because they know accurate information – including personal information about revenues and costs – is vital to effective program management.

          But they prefer waste and inefficiency when it comes to the killing the 140 year old long form census. Curious logic, but not surprising with this bunch.

          As for farms, certainly most are family owned. That’s why the CWB has been so steadily and strongly supported by small and family-owned farms. Which is why Harper refuses to comply with the law and have an actual vote of farmers because he knows he’d lose by the numbers and why he ignores the votes that have been taken.

          But it depends how you calculate. If you look at market share or size of farms or acreage, then vast, vast majority of industrial farms are owned by the big corporate farms. Which is why the anti-CWB lobbyists always complain that the CWB is skewed against them since they are fewer in number but bigger in size.

  2. james Smith says:

    Guess you stand with the Cargil’s & Monsanto’s & Dow’s who want to kill the Wheat Board over the wishes of the majority of growers then eh?

    • smelter rat says:

      It’s your right wing rhetoric and blind ideology that keeps anyone from taking you seriously, Gord.

    • dave says:

      Seems to me there is a kerfuffle going on between those companies and Argentina with the Argentine governemnt and the farm community it represents in a legal battle with the companies. Seems the companies have been shafting the farmers and governemtn down there for the past few years.

  3. Cam Prymak says:

    Globalization and foreign policy – so intertwined.

    Since 2001, U.S. foreign policy has defined U.S society and has done so in binary terms. Fear had replaced the desire for debate so much that initially the fear of Al Qaeda’s next move after September 11, 2001 trumped all other issues and the mentality of ‘you’re either with us or against us’ was born.

    That message filters through digital discussions where typing skills and a penchant to restrict ourselves to only 140 characters further limits discussion so we’ve resorted to name calling and defining others as ‘losers’ in the name of righteous expedience.

    But the fears of the past remain and through various means has been manipulated into anger while being joined by the fears of joblessness and homelessness.

    My point – foreign policy was an important element of how we got to this stage and progressives and liberals can make a difference through supporting intelligent, positive domestic and foreign policy ideas.

  4. james Smith says:

    Fair Disclosure: my son is a CSA farmer. CSA’s are part of the solution to rural poverty by connecting consumers & farmers together as partners. CSA’s ensure that farmers & workers get a living income & that fresh, safe, & in most cases Organic food gets in the hands of consumers.
    Every time you eat you make a choice, if you decide to eat at a restaurant chain what choice have you made?

    • frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

      God bless your son…..the fast food industry is largely responsible for the advent of factory farms and agribusiness…….esp. mega feedlots and hamburger patties that contain the flesh of lord knows how many cattle(and therefore an increased risk in contamination by pathogenic bacteria)
      I try and eat as much local and organic produce as I can….which I know for many families is difficult due to the cost….. but by supporting organic producers, the cost of organic produce will fall, while quality continues to rise.
      People need to know that by making the right choices today, they are helping to safeguard the viability of the soil to produce for future generations, not to mention protecting the jobs of those who toil on the family farm.

      • james Smith says:

        He is passionate, & part of the CSA mandate is to educate, & he does that well.
        If one looks for a CSA & purchases a share, or shares this is the time of year to do so. Our experience is that the produce we get is about the same price as conventional at a high end (Metro or Weston Chain). The farmer has cash in the late winter/early spring, & often one gets a deal if you pay for your whole season at one time rather than in two or three instalments. This does mean a chunk of cash in March, but it also means lower grocery bills in the sumer & fall.

      • Frmr Disgruntled – Totally agree with the organic close to home (and in season) statement,. Just remember, if you are perhaps spending more on quality food, you are saving twice as much in health care costs.

        • frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

          Agreed Ms. Lindsay…..since I have decided to eat “cleaner”(zero fast food) and better quality food(processed foods are no longer in my shopping cart)…my cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure are all much improved……fewer and shorter colds, and sinusitus virtually gone…..
          Wish I had the epiphany much sooner…..though I have had my dog on organic kibble for years, and she hasnt had one health problem…….that should have been my first clue…..
          Trite phrase, but we are definately what we eat……

  5. james Smith says:

    The truth of so-called Libertarianism is it is a new form of feudalism. A feudalism where GREED has replaced Christianity as the underling dogma. Christianity, despite its faults, is based on a revolutionary idea & genuflection in its general direction at least gave us Noblesse oblige. Libertarianism is greed with no crumbs other than the social wars for those of us in neo-peonage.

  6. Mulletaur says:

    The welfare state isn’t broken, as Fukuyama implies, it’s the postwar social consensus that is broken. It has been that way since the early 1980’s. Creating a new progressive ideology is just as much a dead end as the existence of the old ideology was. If we accept that increasing economic polarization will be a permanent feature of our economy from this point forward, we need to aim at making it easier for the lower middle class to get along.

    We are developing into a society where the low skilled, who have constantly to scramble in the service economy, make a living providing services to the high skilled, who live comfortably working in the innovation or high end services economy. The income gap of concern is not between the very rich and very poor, it’s the gap between the upper and lower middle class, which is increasing. That trend will increase as long as manufacturing keeps moving offshore.

    The solution is simple, but politically unpalatable because in the last 30 years the political consensus has been pulled too far to the laissez-faire right. We need to go back to market regulation, high levels of redistribution and, yes, Keynesianism that was the basis of our postwar prosperity up to the 70’s. Fukuyama identified redistribution as a key component, so I’ll concentrate on this.

    We have moved far away from the highly redistributive taxation policies that were a feature of the previous postwar period of prosperity and steady growth. The top 20% of earners need to transfer more of their income to the bottom 20% of earners, full stop. Taxation is one (but only one) way to do this – tax the top 20% more, tax the bottom 20% less, and take as many earners at the bottom out of the tax net as possible. The bottom 20% of earners have a greater tendency to spend extra income in the economy, so growth will increase. And the top 20% will be able to bear the burden of increased taxation the easiest.

    We could create a new middle class from the low skilled workers of the service sector – all we have to do is raise the minimum wage to $20/hour. The effect on jobs will be minimal, the services will still be required. We can call them the ‘McDonalds Middle Class’.

    Redistribution of income can also be accomplished through funding services that only the lower middle class are able to use. Better state pensions and things like means tested state daycare for lower income earners will make it easier to have a good life while earning less income.

    We also need to put a limit on what corporate executives can take out of company as personal gain. Should somebody like Frank Stronach, who made his money off the backs of and from the sweat of his underpaid auto parts employees, really have taken home $25 million a year ? The highest paid employee of any corporation including the most senior management should never make more than, say, 25 times the income of the lowest paid employee. Any executive making more than this should be subject to a 100% surtax of every dollar above. That would obviously have to include stock options and all the rest of the ruses executives use to funnel shareholders’ wealth to themselves.

    The social democratic model is not ‘exhausted’, as Fukuyama claims – it still works well and is just as sustainable economically as it ever was. The problem is that capitalism itself is losing its way. Capitalism has been, up until relatively recently, a source of economic and social progress as well as a guarantee of individual economic freedom. Lately, it has become a massive Ponzi finance scheme in which taxpayers, including the poorest, have been obliged to bail out the scheme’s perpetrators, a few corporate directors and employees who plunder the wealth of shareholders and taxpayers alike. Capitalism needs to discard the glorification of greed, unfettered markets and instantaneous movement of hot money. Instead, it needs to get back to basics : using money to beget money in a way that adds both economic and social value.

    • Lawrence Stuart says:

      I enjoyed reading your post.

      I think the idea of a McDonald’s middle class is interesting: it is in a way the equivalent of Keynes’ statement that it is better to pay one group of workers to dig a hole, and pay another group to fill it up, than to have them all sitting idle doing nothing (and therefore not consuming). In this case, we’d be paying a living wage for flipping burgers. However, wouldn’t the cost of those burgers then go up, making them unaffordable for the flippers themselves?

      The redistribution of wealth through taxation is something that has to be addressed. key to this is debunking the ‘maximization of economic potential’ narrative that underpins supply side economics. As you say, the marginal propensity to consume is inversely related to income. Free spending plutocrats don’t create near the demand that hungry plebs do. And it is demand, not overreaching entrepreneurs, that creates economic activity.

      One question you didn’t address is Fukuyama’s assertion that it is technology which has gutted the prosperity of the lower levels of the working (or middle, in US parlance) class. I thought this was a bit of a cop out on Fukuyama’s part. The displacement of manual labour through globalization is perhaps more to blame. But he is right in pointing it out as a major factor.

      How we deal with globalization is tricky enough. Enforceable international agreements on, say, labour and environmental standards, seem to me to be the way (as opposed to tariffs and trade barriers). How we deal with the technology issue — well, I really don’t know. I am wedded to a notional and constitutional (i.e., my constitution) affinity for play, but how we might move a whole economy from a ‘work’ to a ‘play’ basis is above my pay grade, alas.

      In any event, it is sometimes good to zoom out and look at the whole panorama. It is, clearly, a structural issue on a global scale we are facing. Interesting times … .

      Warren — thanks for the link. Great version of that tune too. Made me tear up.

      • Mulletaur says:


        The cost of the burgers would go up, but as the wages of the burger flippers would also go up substantially (double) they would have more disposable income to buy burgers. Still, you make a good point. Raising the minimum wage as a policy measure on its own would have certain risks. Combining this with increasing redistribution through other means would decrease these risks.

        Macroeconomics has come a long way since Say’s Law held sway as an absolute truth. I think it’s safe to say that economic systems at the macro level behave more like how Keynes described them than how Say and the disciples of supply side economics would have us believe.

        My understanding of his technology argument is that it accelerates middle class inequality : those with education and skills in high technology or high level services get the prize, while there are fewer and fewer well paying jobs available for those who don’t have the skills. But this on its own doesn’t explain what is happening right now. Fukuyama combines this with an argument about the lowering of transportation and communication costs, which is the reason why globalization exists (rather than some evil and imagined Bilderberg Group plot). The semi-skilled jobs in manufacturing working on assembly lines that used to pay good money are going away to lower wage jurisdictions, and they won’t come back. (Nor should they, in my view – we are transferring wealth to developing countries in a way that is assisting with their economic and social development, just what capitalism is good at when it works well.) I make oblique reference to this, perhaps I should have been more explicit. I believe this is Fukuyama’s view of how things are shaking out also.

        You raise an interesting point about labour and environmental standards that I like as a potential policy for the new progressive left. We should continue to trade with developing countries, but we should gradually increase the standards we want them to follow in these two very important areas as a condition of free trade. Otherwise, we impose tariffs so that our producers are not penalized by following our stricter rules. China would be the number one target of such measures. I’m all for it. I think that the European Union does this already to a great extent. We in Canada may be hampered by NAFTA from doing so.

        • Mulletaur says:

          No, it doesn’t at all. Perhaps you could get somebody to read and explain to you what I wrote, Pumpkin. You seem to be suffering from reading comprehension problems.

        • Lawrence Stuart says:

          Well, yes and no. It looks to me like the libertarian tide is receding: witness the fiasco of the Republican leadership convention. Fukuyama’s bit seems just a weensy bit dated, what with Obama’s ‘fairness’ populism seeming to strike a resonant chord ( he says, touching wood, etc.!). So if Barry is re-elected, and depending on the Teaparty’s success, or lack thereof, in Congress, things could be changing on this here continent. I’m not expecting the heavens to open and angels to sing, but I am hopeful that a second term Obama will at least begin a reversal of the tax policy madness that was a big part of this mess. Maybe, inshallah, some more sensible financial reforms as well. And more, even, dare I hope.

          So I guess that I really do disagree with Fukuyama when he says it is the left that has an ideological, um, deficit. I think most people still believe in the welfare state, and understand that economic libertarianism leads to an ever increasing gulf between rich and poor. Prosperity doesn’t just trickle down. It needs channels to be dug, etc.

          As far as Canada goes, I’ve been thinking about why it is we gave up on the idea of a guaranteed annual income. Imagine the efficiencies what could be achieved if we got rid of the main part of the range of federal, provincial, and municipal bureaucracies in the poverty business. Imagine also the black smoke of calumny emitting from ten thousand stove pipes if their suzerainty over all that swag was to be challenged. Ought to interest a small gov’t guy like you, not?

        • Lawrence Stuart says:

          And about Italy, Gord … much of the south has always been a close to the third world in all but name. It was the commie north that saved its bacon. It took a right wing idiot like Berlusconi to mess it up.

          I don’t think many third world countries make an equivalent to a Ferrari (just for example).

          Actually, I don’t think anybody makes an equivalent to a Ferrari.

  7. Robert says:

    It’s worse than you thought. The article states: “This absence of a plausible progressive counter­narrative is unhealthy, because competition is good for intellectual ­debate just as it is for economic activity.” I don’t believe that’s true. Competition is destructive, whereas the pursuit of excellence is constructive, and may happen with or without competition. The left doesn’t just need a narrative, they need a model that fits reality better than competition-based capitalism. That’s been shown to have failed with the near destruction of the system by the greed of Wall Street, but most countries and corporations don’t seem to see an alternative. (It’s obviously not Marxism.) Until we find a better way to organize our society, we’ll have a hard time moving past the industrial age (which fit well with capitalism).

  8. Jerome Bastien says:

    Its rather telling that the first two sentences of that video betray a completely flawed and ideological worldview. They say “poverty is created each generation” or something like that. Poverty is not created, poverty is the default state of humanity. Wealth is created, by human work. Perhaps if leftwingers started from basic principles we know to be true instead of poetic fantasies like “poverty is created” they would not lose the battle of ideas, but then leftwingers would not be leftwingers, they would be rightwingers.

    • Lawrence Stuart says:

      I’d say that your myth of a Hobbesian state of nature is as much a mental construct as the myth of the noble savage. Wealth is created, alright, but it is created by social wholes, not simply by individuals:

      “Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property. He cannot be rich. So inseparably are the means connected with the end, in all cases, that where the former do not exist the latter cannot be obtained. All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man’s own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came.” (Tom Paine)

      Moreover, poverty is indeed created. THe ability of the worker to negotiate a wage with an employer is not an equitable arrangement at all. With wealth comes power, and with power comes an ability to increase wealth by devaluing the necessary contribution of the worker. Ironically, capital seems driven to devalue labour to the point at which the health of the social whole upon which all wealth ultimately depends is brought into question.

      “This is putting the matter on a general principle, and perhaps it is best to do so; for if we examine the case minutely it will be found that the accumulation of personal property is, in many instances, the effect of paying too little for the labor that produced it; the consequence of which is that the working hand perishes in old age, and the employer abounds in affluence.

      It is, perhaps, impossible to proportion exactly the price of labor to the profits it produces; and it will also be said, as an apology for the injustice, that were a workman to receive an increase of wages daily he would not save it against old age, nor be much better for it in the interim. Make, then, society the treasurer to guard it for him in a common fund; for it is no reason that, because he might not make a good use of it for himself, another should take it.

      • Terry Maloney says:

        Your way off base, as usual. That last paragraph was written by Tom Paine, LS just forgot to close the quote.

        • Lawrence Stuart says:

          Yeah, I scewed that up. Mea culpa. Teach me for staying up past bedtime.

          The last para is no doubt part of a polemic against some long forgotten Tory, babbling on about the hopelessly animal character of the lower classes (though it does sound a lot like a rational for a public pension fund!). The whole quote should read thus:

          Separate an individual from society, and give him an island or a continent to possess, and he cannot acquire personal property. He cannot be rich. So inseparably are the means connected with the end, in all cases, that where the former do not exist the latter cannot be obtained. All accumulation, therefore, of personal property, beyond what a man’s own hands produce, is derived to him by living in society; and he owes on every principle of justice, of gratitude, and of civilization, a part of that accumulation back again to society from whence the whole came.

          This is putting the matter on a general principle, and perhaps it is best to do so; for if we examine the case minutely it will be found that the accumulation of personal property is, in many instances, the effect of paying too little for the labor that produced it; the consequence of which is that the working hand perishes in old age, and the employer abounds in affluence.

          It is, perhaps, impossible to proportion exactly the price of labor to the profits it produces; and it will also be said, as an apology for the injustice, that were a workman to receive an increase of wages daily he would not save it against old age, nor be much better for it in the interim. Make, then, society the treasurer to guard it for him in a common fund; for it is no reason that, because he might not make a good use of it for himself, another should take it.

          — Tom Paine, “Common Sense”

        • Lawrence Stuart says:

          Beer and pretzels, ok. But beer and popcorn … eeeewww!

  9. kre8tv says:

    Giving props to a Bob Dylan tune. I approve of this new habit. As for the Occupy movement, it ‘aint done. Not by a long shot. More likely that it’s hibernating until US election season gets fully underway this summer. Wait and see.

  10. Conservative Socialist says:

    Men (or women) are not angels. Remove the minimal and reasonable regulations that was Glass-Steagall, and the crap that occurred with derivatives and housing was inevitable.

    I think this video says it all: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3lQtBzq7CdI

    True, there were lowly house owners who were greedy themselves, but they didn’t know better. The realtors, the banksters DID know better and enabled all this crapola.

    My economic philosophy is not outright communist, but where the private sector can be more efficient, then it should be allowed more freedom to deliver services. But government should also regulate and set mandates in order where it can provide a role to better people’s lives.

    Like Canadian health care. Who needs this mish-mash of private, less efficient and MORE EXPENSIVE system that is American health care? And Canada has a better medical malpractice system as well. Single payer in this case is far more efficient.

    • frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

      And how many Canadians have gone bankrupt, lost their homes, or committed suicide because they couldnt pay their medical bills?…..and lets not forget those Americans(prior to President Obama) who were denied health insurance because of a pre-existing condition, or lost their coverage simply because their treatments became too expensive for the insurer, shall we?…..

      No Mr. Tulk, I will do without your selfish “I’m all right Jack” attitude, where because you’ve “made it”…..you dont want to pay for anyone else……

      I am my brothers keeper, Mr. Tulk…..and I will do with occassional waits for emergency treatment, and be bumped for surgeries(and I have had)…..because I know that the system as it stands now, even with its inherent problems…..is basically fair…..

      I wonder if you had this attitude back on the Rock……probably booted you off the island if you did……

    • axed2leave says:

      Government systems that are more efficient? Roads, military, police. They must be, Gord, or else you would be agitating for their privatization. OR is it because those are government services that you personally rely on and you certainly don’t like to privatize services you use, just the services that others use.

    • smelter rat says:

      Physicians in Canada lose their licenses quite frequently, and the licensing bodies are getting better at making these disclosures public, so it does happen. I have a number of family members who live in the USA, and I gurantee you that unless you are extremely wealthy their health care system is absolutely not superior to ours under any outcome metric. If you believe that the American system doesn’t ration or restrict health care, you really are delusional.

    • frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

      Oh and Mr. Tulk, you might find this program informative…….http://video.pbs.org/video/1099857730

      • Conservative Socialist says:

        It’s horrific. But what I gleaned most from that program is that an aging population will place increasing pressures on health care resources which become scarcer relatively speaking. Consider that the diabetic drug industry gets 10% increase in profits every single year as people increasingly get diagnosed with diabetes (much of it caused by consumption of junk food, especially processed carbohydrates). I’ve solved a lot of my own health problems caused by autoimmune disorders by severely limiting my carbohydrates and replacing them with healthier foods.

        Canada, even with it’s single payer health care system isn’t fully immune from this problem. Go to any laboratory health care service clinic in Canada and you’ll see lineups of people, mostly seniors, waiting to use these services.

        Supply and demand applies here. An older population equals a sicker population. In retrospect, I probably should have went to University in a health care-related field. Such jobs are guaranteed to be recession-proof.

        • Conservative Socialist says:

          PS: The program then makes a case for a health insurance mandate, which is pretty much Romney/Obamacare. Healthy people, by paying monthly premiums, will effectively subsidize those who are sick.

          Is that the solution for the United States? The patchwork of private insurance companies still in place do provide a layer of inefficiency which I think a single payer system would just simplify everything. But politically speaking, the mandate is probably the best that the US can do at this time.

    • Conservative Socialist says:

      I would be horrified if practically every street and highway were privately owned and we’d be faced with a barrage of tolls every time we had to drive. Honestly, having all of these owned by the government actually increases efficiency over all. In fact, I think that the privately-owned highways that have crept up in Canada should be nationalized.

      I do like Canada’s less adversarial approach to health care malpractice. American conservatives point out that many health care providers refuse to be located in areas where malpractice insurance makes it cost prohibitive to actually deliver services there. Canadian health care costs less per capita than American health care, yet it provides more coverage.

      If a case can be made that a government bureaucracy is inefficient and that a private company that bids to deliver such a service can do so to reduce costs and increase efficiency, of course, I am all for it.

      The conservative movement is far too beholden to the mantra of anti-big government and doctrinaire free markets–there is more to life than money. Yes, one should be wary of the power of the state. The Reagan revolution (though I’m too young to recall it) was probably correct in pointing out the excesses of government.

  11. fred says:

    No Gord, the market is manipulating, massaging and corruptly managing every nuance in every way possible. Ponzy schemes, accounting deceit and inflated
    bubble bullshit fraud are what you represent.

  12. dave says:

    Could be that a centre of leftie ideas is South America, in addition, the exchange above between Mulletaur and Lawrence Stuart has ideas that a leftie movement could build on.

    The right/conservative movement has had quite a few sucesses, quashing by force and enforcement secular democratic movements around the planet; selling the language of the left as a pejorative – and selling their own ideology of 1920’s corporatism as ‘new ideas;’ selling individualism and individual freedom as if it were meant for people, when they really mean freedom for business corporations.
    They have bought and paid for the language in which we discuss this kind of thing.

  13. frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

    Mr. Tulk and Rick Santorum…….separated at birth?…..

    “I was talking about the radical environmentalists,” Santorum said, suggesting that they believe man should protect the earth, rather than “steward its resources.” “I think that is a phony ideal. I don’t believe that’s what we’re here to do … We’re not here to serve the earth. That is not the objective, man is the objective.”

    • frmr disgruntled Con now Happy Lib says:

      Protect the earth is my mantra……we can have sustainable growth, and protect the worlds ecosystems………there is no “Planet B” Mr. Tulk, and we need to start acting accordingly…..unless youre one of these who believes the second coming is going to make all right once again….

  14. Lawrence Stuart says:

    Some food for thought, if anybody’s peckish.

    Old, but good, and ready to go GAI: MLK on “Where do we go from here.”

    Now we must develop progress, or rather, a program—and I can’t stay on this long—that will drive the nation to a guaranteed annual income. Now, early in the century this proposal would have been greeted with ridicule and denunciation as destructive of initiative and responsibility. At that time economic status was considered the measure of the individual’s abilities and talents. And in the thinking of that day, the absence of worldly goods indicated a want of industrious habits and moral fiber. We’ve come a long way in our understanding of human motivation and of the blind operation of our economic system. Now we realize that dislocations in the market operation of our economy and the prevalence of discrimination thrust people into idleness and bind them in constant or frequent unemployment against their will. The poor are less often dismissed, I hope, from our conscience today by being branded as inferior and incompetent. We also know that no matter how dynamically the economy develops and expands, it does not eliminate all poverty.


    David Frum in New York Magazine on the ideological bankruptcy of the right:

    This past summer, the GOP nearly forced America to the verge of default just to score a point in a budget debate. In the throes of the worst economic crisis since the Depression, Republican politicians demand massive budget cuts and shrug off the concerns of the unemployed. In the face of evidence of dwindling upward mobility and long-stagnating middle-class wages, my party’s economic ideas sometimes seem to have shrunk to just one: more tax cuts for the very highest earners.


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