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Why Capitalism Fails

An excerpt from the Boston Globe. Be sure to read the whole article!

Why capitalism fails
The man who saw the meltdown coming had another troubling insight: it will happen again

By Stephen Mihm
Globe Correspondent / September 13, 2009

Since the global financial system started unraveling in dramatic fashion two years ago, distinguished economists have suffered a crisis of their own. Ivy League professors who had trumpeted the dawn of a new era of stability have scrambled to explain how, exactly, the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression had ambushed their entire profession.

Amid the hand-wringing and the self-flagellation, a few more cerebral commentators started to speak about the arrival of a “Minsky moment,” and a growing number of insiders began to warn of a coming “Minsky meltdown.”

“Minsky” was shorthand for Hyman Minsky, a hitherto obscure macroeconomist who died over a decade ago. Many economists had never heard of him when the crisis struck, and he remains a shadowy figure in the profession. But lately he has begun emerging as perhaps the most prescient big-picture thinker about what, exactly, we are going through. A contrarian amid the conformity of postwar America, an expert in the then-unfashionable subfields of finance and crisis, Minsky was one economist who saw what was coming. He predicted, decades ago, almost exactly the kind of meltdown that recently hammered the global economy.

In recent months Minsky’s star has only risen. Nobel Prize-winning economists talk about incorporating his insights, and copies of his books are back in print and selling well. He’s gone from being a nearly forgotten figure to a key player in the debate over how to fix the financial system.

But if Minsky was as right as he seems to have been, the news is not exactly encouraging. He believed in capitalism, but also believed it had almost a genetic weakness. Modern finance, he argued, was far from the stabilizing force that mainstream economics portrayed: rather, it was a system that created the illusion of stability while simultaneously creating the conditions for an inevitable and dramatic collapse.

In other words, the one person who foresaw the crisis also believed that our whole financial system contains the seeds of its own destruction. “Instability,” he wrote, “is an inherent and inescapable flaw of capitalism.”

Categories: News & Politics

The Truth About the Public Option

The Recession’s Racial Divide

An excerpt from the New York Times:

OP-ED CONTRIBUTORS
The Recession’s Racial Divide

By BARBARA EHRENREICH and DEDRICK MUHAMMAD
Published: September 12, 2009

WHAT do you get when you combine the worst economic downturn since the Depression with the first black president? A surge of white racial resentment, loosely disguised as a populist revolt. An article on the Fox News Web site has put forth the theory that health reform is a stealth version of reparations for slavery: whites will foot the bill and, by some undisclosed mechanism, blacks will get all the care. President Obama, in such fantasies, is a dictator and, in one image circulated among the anti-tax, anti-health reform “tea parties,” he is depicted as a befeathered African witch doctor with little tusks coming out of his nostrils. When you’re going down, as the white middle class has been doing for several years now, it’s all too easy to imagine that it’s because someone else is climbing up over your back.

Categories: News & Politics

AF Boots Decorated Pilot for Being Gay

Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell is a rediculous policy from a by-gone era.

We should all push President Obama to end this absurdity — which is clearly harming national security — immediately.

AF Boots Decorated Pilot for Being Gay
May 20, 2009
Military.com

An 18-year Air Force officer and fighter pilot is being booted under the Pentagon’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays, the officer revealed last night during a prime-time television interview.

Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach, an F-15E Strike Eagle pilot assigned to Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, where he called an investigation board’s finding that his homosexuality harmed unit morale, good order and discipline “absolutely false.”

“About 4,000 people are assigned to Mountain Home Air Force Base, and only about 10 people on the entire base even knew of my case up until this very moment,” he said. “Those were my immediate chain of command, a couple of attorneys in the legal office, and a couple of officers in the Office of Special Investigations. Not one single person that I’m assigned with in my squadron, or that I fly with in my fighter squadron, knew about this case until this moment.”

AF Boots Decorated Pilot for Being Gay

And here’s some video….

Categories: News & Politics

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The Party Of Torture

Bill Kristol provides a curtain-raiser for a Cheney speech next week that promises to entrench the notion that the Republican party is the Torture Party.

As always, Kristol’s sole principle seems to be the wielding of power. He, like Cheney, is beginning to understand that history is beginning to gel around the assumption that the Bush-Cheney administration presided over the worst attack on US soil in history and failed to capture or bring to justice any of its perpetrators, put the next generation into unparalleled and unsustainable debt, did nothing to combat climate change, viciously opposed the civil rights movement of its time, shrunk the GOP to one in five voters, precipitated the worst recession since the 1930s, took the US into two grueling, unwinnable wars, humiliated the US at the UN with fatally flawed intelligence for war in Iraq, and destroyed the credibility and endurance of the Geneva Conventions, thus ensuring that future captured Americans will be tortured with no recourse.

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Categories: News & Politics

Sore Losers

Why Republicans Make Sore LosersOut of power, they’re bigger babies than Democrats. Here’s why.

By Timothy Noah
Posted Wednesday, May 13, 2009, at 6:38 PM ET

As a Democrat and longtime resident of Washington, D.C., I’ve always found the capital more congenial when my party was out of power. Partly that’s because I make my living as a journalist. Republican presidents tend to create a more target-rich environment, not just for liberals but (I think) for everybody. Mostly, though, it’s because Republicans out of power go out of their way to make life unpleasant for the rest of us. When Democrats lose, they’re pathetic. When Republicans lose, they’re bitter and mean.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s enthusiastic bashing of the Obama administration—for making the United States vulnerable to terrorist attack (even though the last one happened on his watch); for running up the deficit (even though Cheney once told then-Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill that “Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter”); for shaking hands with Hugo Chávez (even though Cheney’s mentor, Don Rumsfeld, was once photographed shaking hands with Saddam Hussein); and for extending government bailouts beyond the financial industry (even though, four months earlier, Cheney had chewed out congressional Republicans for refusing to bail out the auto industry)—is a case in point. It’s been noted widely that Al Gore raised some eyebrows when he gave a speech criticizing the Bush administration’s rush to war against Iraq and its doctrine of pre-emption. But this occurred a year and eight months into Bush’s first term. Cheney, by contrast, was out of the gate a mere two weeks after Obama was sworn in.

Why Republicans make the rest of us miserable when they lose. – By Timothy Noah – Slate Magazine

Categories: News & Politics

Is the Conservative Movement Losing Steam?

This is a very good article. Here’s the line that sums up a lot:

By the fall of 2008, the face of the Republican Party had become Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber. Conservative intellectuals had no party.

The Becker-Posner Blog: Is the Conservative Movement Losing Steam? Posner

Categories: News & Politics