Rent seeking can not be stopped.

We have personal responsibilities. We have responsibilities to each other too. (not all believe the latter )

It would be nice if individuals would meet the responsibilities we have toward others without the intervention of some central authority… but we don’t. We never, in post hunter-gatherer History, have. No reason to expect that we would now. Even the appearance of the Son of God on earth did not alter this situation.

Faced with this, Libertarians like to argue that such a situation is regrettable but anything government does distorts the Free market and so makes things worse. 

If we did have a truly free markets than this might carry some weight. But a Free market is an abstract impossibility that is only useful for economic theorizing. ( for that it is indispensable. )

In the US of A what we actually have is a competitive system of what economist call “Rent Seeking” (an awful term because it has nothing to do with rents as we think of them. ) Rent Seeking means trying to get institutionalized privilege. 

So we have a system where we compete to influence the government with the goal of maintaining or increasing our privilege. In this key way our system is no different than any other that came before it. But our system is far more democratic than most that came before; the game is open to all in our system. But the game is the same. 

There is not an occupation or business that does not depend in someway on rent seeking. 

Now when Libertarians and conservatives complain about government “hand outs” they are complaining about the rent seeking of the poor, old or sick. They seldom complain about the rent seeking of the elite. And like most of us they don’t even see the rent seeking that boosts them up. 

When this is pointed out, libertarians will always decry the whole rent seeking form of government…and will argue that shrinking the government is the way to stop it. 
But we have never in History had a system where the elite did not rig the system. Never. But we have had lots and lots of systems where the government was small and there was ONLY elite rent seeking. (A king is a pretty small government.) 

If Conservatives want to prove that government with out rent seeking is possible…Then take away the rent seeking of the elite first and then get back to us. Taking away the rent seeking of the common man proves nothing. Historically it has been easy and always INCREASES elite’s rent seeking. (Because who is gonna stop them? The invisible hand ? The elite have been ignoring the invisible hand forever. )

If you can’t take a way the institutionalized privilege of the elite, then it is immoral to ask the common citizen to give up his privileges, the ability to protect them, and to the ability to seek new privileges. 

In the end, rent seeking is a market. It is a market for privilege that effects your chances in all the other markets. You can’t make it go away anymore than you can make the market for drugs go away. If people want something and others have more of it than they need…An exchange will happen. 

How can Libertarians deny this ? There own beliefs tell them it is true.


The talk TED did not want you to hear.

Jim Tankersley  alerted us all to …

” The Inequality Speech That TED Won’t Show You: Prepare to meet Nick Hanauer. He’s a venture capitalist from Seattle who was the first non-family investor in Today he’s a very rich man. And, somewhat jarringly, he’s screaming to anyone who will listen that he, and other wealthy innovators like him, doesn’t create jobs. The middle class does – and its decline threatens everyone in America, from the innovators on down.  You’ll read a lot more about Hanauer in the next installation of Restoration Calls, which drops tomorrow. (here) In the meantime, check out the full text of a speech Hanauer gave in March at the TED University conference. You can’t find the talk online, because TED officials have declared it too politically controversial to post on their web site. You be the judge: “

You can hear it online now…at last.
If you would rather read it go to Tankersley’s excellent original post.

Matthew Yglesias. Sports reporter.

A simply Brilliant piece of writing…
Matthew Yglesias is talking about more than Americans and their sports coverage. Everything he says has its parallel  in politics . It is a convincingly damning rant.

America—at least in its own imagination—stands for certain things. For the idea that hard work and sound judgment bring success, and that success deserves celebration. That winners should be celebrated as long as they play by the rules. That teamwork, leadership, loyalty, and excellence all count for something. And that’s why the San Antonio Spurs, currently riding a stupendous run of 19 straight victories, are America’s favorite professional basketball team.

Except, of course, they aren’t. Not this year when they tied for the best record in the league, and not last year when they were the best in the West. Not in their 1999 championship run or the follow-ups in 2003, 2005, and 2007. Not for a single moment amid the glorious 15-year run with coach Gregg Popovich and big man Tim Duncan have the Spurs captured the imaginations of the American people or even its basketball fans. That’s because we are, ultimately, a nation of hypocrites that prefers drama queens, bad boys, and flukes to simple competence and success.

 The last paragraph is a gem. I wanted to post it. It felt like stealing. Go read it. “… a nation of hypocrites that prefers drama queens.”

Israel’s Defense Minister, Zionism Equals Apartheid.

“The simple truth is, if there is one state” including Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, “it will have to be either bi-national or undemocratic. … if this bloc of millions of Palestinians cannot vote, that will be an apartheid state.”

Does this sound like Jimmy Carter?  It was Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Israel was founded on the principles of Zionism. The concept of Zionism is complex one. It means different things to different people, even among Zionism’s supporters. Anti-Zionism is often a mask for antisemitism. But everyone agrees that Zionism at its core means that Israel is a Jewish nation. This is problematic for anyone wishing to keep Israel democratic as well as a Zionist.

Here are the demographics of  the “bi national “, “one state” Barak is talking about. Israel has a population of about 8 million people. About 6 million Israelis are Jewish, and about 2 million are Arab. The Palestinian population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is about 2.5 million. Gaza has a population of about 1.5 million. That makes 6 million Jews and 6 million mostly Muslim Arabs. The Birth rates of the Arabs are higher than the birth rates of the Jews. A democratic Israel can not remain a Jewish state when Jews become a minority. Israel could incorporate the disputed lands and deny the Palestinians the right to vote, and remain Zionist, but no one could call disenfranchising half of a population on the basis of race or religion a democracy.

This basic problem is why many, including the United States has advocated a two state solution. But for a two state solution to be viable, each state must be viable. Every time Israel “settles” her citizens on land in the West Bank or east Jerusalem, they unavoidably lesson the viability of a Palestinian state, and therefor lesson the viability of a two state solution. Israel has so far “settled” about half a million people in the West Bank.


Map of West Bank settlements and closures in January 2006: Yellow = Palestinian urban centers. Light pink = closed military areas or settlement boundary areas or areas isolated by the Israeli West Bank Barrier; dark pink = settlements, outposts or military bases. The black line = route of the Barrier

Map from wiki commons.

Many in The United states have little sympathy for the Palestinians and support Israel uncritically. But what they don’t realize is that when the right-wing is in power in Israel, they are supporting policies that will lead to the end of Israel as a Jewish nation, or far more likely to an Israel that must permanently practice apartheid, keeping 4 million Palestinians captive . Many Americans will say “too bad. The Palestinians deserve it.” But those same Americans should realize that Israel too, will be condemned. Israel will be condemned to be hated by her neighbors. long term peace will be impossible. She will be seen by the world as an oppressor. And Israelis themselves will have lost the dream of what Israel was conceived to be, a free Zionist nation, replaced by Zionist Fascism.

“The lack of a solution to the problem of border demarcation within the historic Land of Israel – and not an Iranian bomb – is the most serious threat to Israel’s future.”

Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

It is rare to find the level of criticism of Israel in this post in America’s popular press. When it is expressed it is always countered with a frantic push back, mostly based on charges of antisemitism. Jimmy Carter is perhaps the best example. He has become a political untouchable since his book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” came out.

But the Israelis are far harsher critics of themselves than anyone is allowed to be in America. Check out this Oped in Haaretz. Haaretz is widely considered to be the best and most influential newspaper in Israel.

Fear of peace will be the death of Israel by Bradley Burston.

According to the American press’ logic, Israel is full of Jewish antisemites.

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Glenn Beck, Blaming America for Pearl Harbor. Accuses America of Terrorism.

Beck says, Pearl Harbor was bombed…

“because Woodrow Wilson told England, ‘You need to align yourself with us and not Japan…So we humiliated Japan, So it was terror, the progressives (Americans) started it.”

Audio here

Thanks Glenn, and all this time I thought Japan was responsible when they dropped bombs on our ships and strafed our sailors with bullets. I thought it was the Japanese who crippled our navy , and killed or wounded almost 4000 American servicemen.

Who knew they were just fighting back against American terrorism. Now I know that it was all our fault, thanks to you Glenn.

I guess when you look at the way you do Mr. Beck, you would have to conclude that the attack on the twin towers on 9/11 was Americas fault too. Al Qade and Osama, were forced to do it because of Bush’s support for Israel. How humiliating for them. They were just fighting back against the terror  by the conservatives. This conclusion is inescapable if a guy thinks like you do Mr. Beck.

Glenn Beck, Why do you hate America?

PolitiFact Wrong on Reconciliation, Calls Obama a Hypocrite.

PolitiFact gives  Obama a “full flop” on reconciliation largely based on this,

“But the fact is, the health care bill is not getting any Republican support, and Obama is pressing forward with a plan to push through a health care plan without them, and without a 60-vote majority.

But the politi-FACT is that the Senate passed their health care bill with a 60 vote majority. And if a health care plan is to become the law of the land, the house will have to pass that same bill.

In fact news reports yesterday had the Senate parliamentarian ruling that the President must sign the bill into law before reconciliation can even take place.
Therefor it is incorrect for PolitiFact to conclude that Obama is pushing through a healthcare plan with out a 60 vote majority.

An attempt to use reconciliation to augment the bill in a manner completely consistent with how reconcilliation has been used in the past will be made. So if PolitiFact wants to give Obama a full flip on reconciliation based on his approving of augmenting a health care plan, not passing a health care plan, They may have a case. I wonder how they would rule if they took the proper, narrower focus?  I doubt that PolitiFact will find quotes of Obama trashing the traditional use of reconciliation.  I could be wrong. Anybody got any?

At the very least PolitiFact is guilty of sensationalism. Now that is what I call hypocrisy.

Why isn’t David Vitter in Jail ?

David Vitter confessed to a crime. He payed for sex. Kinky diaper sex.

Paying for sex, employing a whore, exchanging currency with a hooker in exchange for her doing nasty things to your ugly old body, is a crime.

So why has Vitter gotten away with committing a crime ? Why were no charges brought against him? Everyone thinks the Senate is full of criminals but this Senator has admitted it.  How is this not a smear on the integrity of the Senate?

Hey Super Rich Liberals, Democrats need a lie machine.

It is all about manipulating the Main Stream Media,(MSM) .

When the Fairness Doctrine was gutted, ushering in the era of the “Free Market of Ideas”, it was the repubs who first realized that just like any other market, When it comes to selling abstractions,the facts are too hard to pin down, but sensationalism sells. The left was left behind.
The left has become better at turning reality into sensational narratives. But considering the very ugly the reality that eight years of Bush have supplied, our job has been easy, yet still we find ourselves being neutralized by the wing-nut machine.

The arrow we are lacking in our quiver is the power of the lie.
Repubs have an arsenal of big lies. lies that have been cultivated for decades. Even when these lies are exposed as falsies by events in reality, the Republicans don’t abandon them.
Even the most obvious reality is never simple when put under a microscope. Repubs are masters at looking under the microscope and lying about what they see and they always ‘see” the same things…Proof that their big lies were right after all.

The MSM treats every issue as if each side has equally valid points. They operate as if it is their job to present both sides of the case and then let the Public decide. They have abandoned their jobs as truth seekers.

So we have a situation where one side is dealing in truth while the other pushes more and more lies and a press that splits the difference. What is half way in between the truth and a lie?
A lie.
If both sides lie, the middle point is still a lie. There is no longer a truth continuum. But there is still a right / left emotional continuum to consider. A dem lie machine could go along way in moving peoples perceptions toward the left.

There is no reason we can not deal in truth, while simultaneously on other levels through alternative venues, lie our asses off….

PS…Bringing back the fairness doctrine is not a viable solution. It is not gonna happen, and with the internet explosion in media streams it would be impossible anyway.

‘Filegate’ after fourteen years ‘there’s no there there.’

From WaPo,

Clinton-era Filegate appears to have closed, 14 years on.

Filegate  “…allegations that the administration conspired to use the FBI for a political witch hunt…Filegate, one of the many “-gates” of the Clinton administration, looks to be over — after a 14-year run…U.S. District Chief Judge Royce C. Lamberth tossed the case. “After years of litigation, endless depositions, the fictionalized portrayal of this lawsuit and its litigants on television,” Lamberth concluded in a 28-page opinion, “this court is left to conclude that with the lawsuit, to quote Gertrude Stein, ‘there’s no there there.’ “

Are liberals somehow fundamentally unable to organize and maintain “fanciful, unglued attacks against” Republicans?

Fighting with the truth as your weapon as Media Matters does so well is great. But IMO, unless we are fighting on all levels we are ceding part of the constituency. After what we have witnessed in Obama’s first year there can be no denying that the Repubs still are able to create memes and media narratives, far better than the Dems. And they do it through the basest means; by appealing to the worst in us.
Of course we have MM, Hufpo, Koz, 538, TMP, and many other fine organizations that do a great job of turning the truth into memes and narratives. (just think how terrifyingly dark it would be in America with out them) But we do not have a ANY organized or funded effort to out right lie, and misinform.
Big mistake.

I think there is a logic in the minds of liberals that prevents us from simultaneously telling the truth and telling lies.

This affliction, obviously, does not hinder the average repub.
I am not advocating that MM and koz and all the rest become liberal versions of FOX, ushering in an age of universal Orwellian Newspeaking (Fox and Msnbc are alike in that they are both partisan, but unalike in that Fox is not overly concerned with the truth, and MSNBC for the most part is. )
But what Must happen if we are to be able to fight the repub-con corporatist on a more equal footing is for a liberal ends justify the means, lying smear machine to be funded by some rich ego driven Machiavellian liberals and fear based fund-raising.

Congressman Joe Barton: “California health care premiums would go down 50% if Californians could by health insurance from Nevada or Oregon.”

Just about half an hour ago, at the health care summit, Congressman Joe Barton (R, TX)  made the statement, “There is a study just out… In the state of California health care premiums would go down 50% if Californians could buy health insurance from Nevada or Oregon. ” This was news to me. I jumped on the internet and and tried to find the study he was referring to. After several attempts, I got nada.

So I called the Congressman’s Barton’s office. A man answered right away and he was extremely nice. I asked him if he could direct me to the study . He said he could not because he did not know what study the congressman was referring to. I have to say I was shocked. To be fair he went on to say that the person in the office who was the expert on health care was not in the office because of they were at the summit. Totally understandable.

He invited me to call back, (stupidly I did not ask when would be a good time) and he supplied me with the number to the congressional health care committee saying they could tell me where to look for the study.  A man answered right away and he was extremely nice. I told him Barton’s office had directed me there and I asked him if he could direct me to the study . He told me that they were unaware of the study and since the congressman said it, his staff would be the best place to find it.

Funny stuff.

So I am gonna call back, later today, and tomorrow , and the next day…Until I find it.

Can anyone save me some time? Anyone know what study he was talking about?

Update. February 26.

I called the Congressman’s Barton’s office again to day. A man answered right away and he was extremely nice. Again I asked him if he could direct me to the study. I think it was the same man. (I should ask his name, don’t ya think? Rude of me.) He told me he still could not direct me to the study, and that Congressman Barton’s health care expert was out for the week. Bummer! He sounded genuinely disappointed that he could not help and invited me to call back on Monday.

I will.

Update 2, Feb 26,

WaPo has Congressman Barton’s compleat health care summit remarks here.

Update 3, March 3,

Well after several calls today was a bit different . The very nice man asked me for my information and said he will send it to the committee and they would get back to me with the study. I wonder how long that will take? Has my question just been sent to committee to die?

Well, I will give them a few days. And if the committee does not help, then I will call the very nice man at The congressman office again.

Members of the Trolletariat welcome.