What does

— this graphic mean? That we do better under Democrats (Reagan excepted) than Republicans? That the times are reflected in their leaders? Neither? Both?

I gotta say that I’m torn. My inner Libertarian agrees with Peter Schiff, who saw the crash coming, warned everybody about it, says

  We have an economy that’s based on the same principles as Bernie Madoff’s investments… It’s a Ponzi economy. It’s not real. We don’t save and we don’t produce anything anymore. We simply borrow from the rest of the world, and then we spend it. We’ve had a giant party. We bought all these plasma TVs and iPods. We remodeled our houses and took vacations. But you know what? The bills are coming in.”

He’s right. We partied on easy credit, and we’ve got a helluva hangover. But what about Schiff’s plans? As Fortune puts it (at the last link), those are — Shrink the government radically, cancel all bailouts immediately, take plenty of tough medicine, and let the free market do its job – however harsh it may be for, say, autoworkers in the meantime.

Meanwhile my inner Democrat (fwiw, I’m a registered Independent) can’t dismiss Paul Krugman either. Krugman wants Obama to cancel the tax cuts and spend more. Some dismiss Krugman’s Nobel prize, but I think it makes him worth listening to.

One of my concerns about Big Spending by the feds is what inducements to corruption it produces. Will there be earmarks out the wazoo? Betcha. (Hillary is no longer in a position to produce them, but she was sure good at it. Check progress on that last link here.)

Anyway, just wanted to blab that.


  1. Rex Hammock’s avatar

    Lies, damn lies and statistical charts.

    Interesting chart from The Atlantic that suggests (with a bit of tongue in cheek) that the Bush years weren’t so bad:


    Upon reading the post, however, the real point is that the country’s GDP has grown steadily since 1810. Moreover, the growth (or retreat) of the economy cannot be understood by slicing it up into arbitrary chunks corresponding to Presidential terms.

    Call me a cynic (or is this being an optimist?), but I think there is little Obama can do with policy that will be as effective as what he can do with his amazing skills to inspire. I think he needs to link any economic stimulus policy with some motivational stymulus — maybe get Will.i.am to write a song or something. Something like: “Yes We Can…have a strong economy once more.”

  2. Emil Sotirov’s avatar

    Just a somewhat related note about the myth that private initiative and entrepreneurship are the only true engine of innovation and respectively of wealth creation (whatever that means).

    See this paragraph: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet#Creation

    30 years of work (1958-1988) by those proverbially stupid, lazy, bureaucratic, corruptible, small-minded government scientists before the “Reagan” moment in 1988 – “the opening of the network to commercial interests.” (I have a huge respect for Reagan the politician.)

    And then came the “true American heroes” – the guys driven by “sky’s the limit” egos and dreams of billion dollar private empires. And now most teenagers probably think that Steve Jobs invented “the computer”, Bill Gates invented “the software”, and AOL (or whatever) invented “the Internet.”

    People tend to forget that most true innovation is done by people who are not motivated (mostly) by money. Doesn’t seem illogical if you think about it.

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar


    This is true. I don’t think anybody goes into business thinking “I just can’t wait to do something that returns value to shareholders.” They say “I want to invent X,” or “I want to start a restaurant,” or “I think there’s a business in overnight delivery.”

    Peter Drucker said that companies are ways of oranizing work, and live for their customers and employees, far more than for their investors. And that if the latter is mostly what they do, they’ll fail.

    And Rex, agreed as well. Somebody told me the story yesterday of something being done by a bunch of people who felt highly motivated — to do business — by Obama’s speeches. His capacity to inspire is non-trivial.

  4. Mike Warot’s avatar

    Start with the last chart first… inflation…

    It was under Kennedy and Johnson that we spent so much money we had to debase our currency, and finally under Nixon close the gold window.

    The root of the problem goes back to the 1907 panic which allowed the subsequent creation of the “Federal Reserve” in 1913, which is neither Federal, nor a Reserve.

    It’s ALL lies.

  5. Sheila Lennon’s avatar

    Doc, Drucker describes what happened to newspapers, often owned by local and perhaps benevolent families who were willing to reinvest in news gathering and smart technology. Gone public, or purchased by larger outfit who were already public, the focus shifted to the bottom line, keeping Wall Street happy by cutting investment in newsgathering and smart technology.

    Unfortunately, my 401k depends on that Wall Street demand.

    F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote, “-The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”

    It was, appropriately, published in a collection titled The Crack-Up.

  6. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Right, Sheila.

    In writing Toward a post-largesse journalism, I wondered if there was a Great Family behind the Providence Journal. Wikipedia offers no hints there.

  7. Sheila Lennon’s avatar

    Doc, for most of the 20th century, it was the Metcalf family. On its 175th anniversary, in 2004, the Journal recounted its history.

    1987 was a bad year

    Publisher and Chief Executive Officer Michael P. Metcalf reigned over The Providence Journal during a period of aggressive investments that would expand and modernize the company — and improve downtown Providence.

    His unexplained death in 1987 is one of the strangest and most painful chapters in Journal history.

    Metcalf, who was described as a reserved and private person, descended from a family that had been shaping The Providence Journal since the end of the 19th century. His grandfather, Stephen O. Metcalf, joined the Journal Company’s board of directors in 1890, and was company president from 1904 to 1941.

    Michael Metcalf’s father, George P. Metcalf, became company president after Stephen O. retired.

    Michael Metcalf was born in Providence in 1933. He worked as a reporter for the Charlotte Observer, and then sold ads for the Philadelphia Bulletin, before joining The Journal’s advertising department in 1962. In 1963, he became the assistant to company president John C.A. Watkins, and continued to move up in the corporation. He succeeded Watkins as publisher in 1979 and as chairman of the board in 1985.

    …Metcalf had overseen the development of The Journal’s $60-million printing plant on Kinsley Avenue, which include presses that use flexography, a revolutionary process for newspapers.

    The newspaper on Sept. 13, 1987, printed a special section describing the new printing process. That morning, the Sunday papers were not in the publisher’s mailbox. Metcalf got on his 10-speed bicycle — perhaps intending to buy a paper — and pedaled away from his Westport, Mass., summer home.

    What happened next is still a mystery.

    Another cyclist discovered Metcalf lying in the road, unconscious and bleeding with a head injury. He was next to his undamaged bike, about 1 1/2 miles from home.

    Surgery at St. Anne Hospital in Fall River could not save him, and Metcalf died a week later, at age 54, never having regained consciousness.

    The police said Metcalf’s death appeared to be an accident; they theorized that Metcalf had fallen off his bike and struck his head on the road — maybe after an animal had darted in front of him, or maybe after he had run over a stone.

    The Providence Journal Co. asked the Bristol County District Attorney’s office to investigate.

    Although the investigation concluded that Metcalf’s death had been an accident, new Journal publisher Stephen Hamblett found it hard to accept that Metcalf had died accidentally. “Unfortunately, we will probably never know the complete story behind Mr. Metcalf’s death,” Hamblett said in February 1988. “It may have been an accident, albeit a very unusual one.”

    The publisher’s paper boy swore he had left the paper at the house that Sunday, as usual.

    A decade later, with rumors of myriad inheritors wanting liquidity, the Journal was sold to A. H. Belo of Dallas.

  8. Russell Nelson’s avatar

    I dismiss Krugman. He wants us to spend extra money, but has no credible plan on how to spend extra money in any way differently than it’s always been spent: on the pet projects of lawmakers. When you listen to him, he’ll tell you that it doesn’t matter on what we spend the money, as long as we spend it. That’s a CLASSIC economic fallacy: the Broken Window Fallacy. It should cause anyone to question his PhD (when will MIT recall his doctorate??), his Nobel Prize (hopefully it’s not too late to stop payment on the check), and his credentials as an economist.

  9. lou vanderplate’s avatar

    gee, I don’t know. let’s just turn on some ferlin husky, pop open a bud, follow it with a shot, pop open another bud, follow it with another shot, pop open another bud, follow it with another shot, pop open another bud, follow it with another shot, pop open another bud, follow it with another shot, pop open another bud, follow it with another shot, try to stand up and figure it all out – do we take a leak or do we vomit?

    damn i took a leak on my ferlin husky collection!

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