Will Robert Reich Please Shut Up

Former Clinton labor secretary and perennial industrial policy hustler, Robert Reich, is a leading negative indicator. Whatever he predicts, the exact opposite occurs. In the 1980s, Reich declared that the U.S. economic growth rates were in a permanent slump and that we needed to adopt the economic model represented by the once famed Japanese Ministry of International Trade and Industry. In 1982, Reich co-authored Minding America's Business with Ira Magaziner which recommended that the federal government start directing the economy. A few excerpts below:

"U.S. companies and the government [should] develop a coherent and coordinated industrial policy whose aim is to raise the real income of our citizens by improving the pattern of our investments." According to the two the governments of Japan, France and West Germany "understand that the only real alternative to developing a rational industrial policy that seeks to improve the competitive performance of their economy in world markets is for the government to cede the formation of policy to the politically strongest or most active elements of industry. Industrial policies are necessary to ease society's adjustment to structural changes in a growing economy."

The United States was failing because it had "an irrational and uncoordinated industrial policy," resulting in a "process of economic policy formation [that] remains decentralized and chaotic." They added: "Perhaps the most striking feature of the U.S. industrial policy apparatus is the absence of a single agency or office with overall responsibility for monitoring changes in world markets or in the competitiveness of American industry, or for easing the adjustment of the domestic economy to these changes."

They concluded: "The failure of U.S. industrial policy is not simply a failure of organization, of course. It is a failure of substantive strategy. The industrial policies of Japan, West Germany and France have been more successful than U.S. policies because they have explicitly and consciously aimed at improving the international competitiveness of their businesses."

Total unmitigated flapdoodle.

In 1982, the Reagan Boom was just beginning as his administration dismantled the disastrous "industrial policies" pursued in the 1970s, e.g., a period of wage and price controls and energy price controls. During the Reagan Boom, U.S. economic growth rate averaged 3.2 percent per year and GDP rose by almost 36 percent between 1983 and 1990. Fortunately, President Clinton paid no attention to the economically ignorant nostrums of his Labor Secretary, and the Clinton Boom sailed on, with an average growth rate of 2.3 percent and GDP rising by 33 percent between 1991 and 1999.

Meanwhile Reich's model of economic virtuosity, Japan, entered into more than a decade of economic stagnation, and growth rates in Germany and France slowed to a crawl and their unemployment rates soared. In fact, it was news earlier this year when Germany's unemployment rate declined this June to 9.1 percent for its lowest reading since March of 1995.

Now comes the insufferable Reich with an idiotic article in the current Foreign Policy (sub required) arguing that capitalism is undermining democracy around the globe. An example of his perspicacity is Reich's bizarre assertion:

"Many economically successful nations-from Russia to Mexico-are democracies in name only."

Economically successful? What can be he talking about? Both Russia and Mexico are oil oligarchies with-how shall we say it?--problematic political histories.

As usual Reich thinks that only more state intervention (more democracy) in economies can soften the blows of globalization. Of course, Reich's chief example of undemocratic capitalism is China. China, he writes,

"... is surging toward capitalism without democracy at all. That's good news for people who invest in China, but the social consequences for the country's citizens are mounting. Income inequality has widened enormously. China's new business elites live in McMansions inside gated suburban communities and send their children to study overseas. At the same time, China's cities are bursting with peasants from the countryside who have sunk into urban poverty and unemployment. And those who are affected most have little political recourse to change the situation, beyond riots that are routinely put down by force."

Well, yes. But China's history is not over. (And never mind that rural poverty is even more grinding than urban poverty.) As Freedom House points out the number of countries that qualify as free rose from just 44 in 1972 to 89 in 2005, even as capitalism expanded around the globe. It has been hypothesized that as incomes increase in a country (rise of a middle class), the demand for democratic governance becomes irresistible. This seems to have been the pattern in South Korea, Chile, and Taiwan. Will the same thing happen in China? As a negative leading indicator---whatever Reich predicts, the opposite occurs-don't be surprised if China becomes a democracy in the next decade.

Once what passes for his analysis is complete, Reich ends by grandly declaring that the next step,"which is often the hardest, is to get our thinking straight." Advice on how to "think straight" from a man whose grand policy pronouncements have proven to be always wrong-you've got to be kidding!

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  • ||

    Yet this man is still trotted out as an expext on economic policy on TV.He couldn't run my barber shop.

  • ||

    Mr. Bailey,

    Please do share some of your writing from 1982 to see how well it has stood the test of time.

    Did Reich cut you off in traffic once or what?

    BTW, I expect a democratic China the same time that Axl Rose and whoever is still in G&R actually releases Chinese Democracy.

  • jkl||

    in before joe

  • ||

    "Many economically successful nations-from Russia to Mexico-are democracies in name only."

    Um, Mexico is a democracy now, if by democracy you mean they have elections and relatively peaceful transfers of power between opposite parties.

  • ||

    You don't usually see someone going back a quarter century to find grist for an ad homenim attack.

    And as precise an example of an ad homenim attack I rarely see. We shouldn't take seriously Reich's ideas about the interaction between capitalism and democracy, because of what he wrote about economic policy a long time ago.

    Since Bailey book "Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths" is of much more recent vintage, I guess that means we should ignore him, too.

  • ||

    Economically successful? What can be he talking about? Both Russia and Mexico are oil oligarchies with-how shall we say it?--problematic political histories.

    So, they're countries which bring in a relatively large amount of wealth (ie, economically successful in the GDP per cap terms that are always used by Reason to measure such things), but their political systems are problematic oligarchies.

    And this is supposed to be an refutation of Reich's statement that countries like Mexico and Russia are economically successful buy have shoddy democracies?

  • ||

    My personal policy is not to fuck with really short dudes. They have a super low center of balance and it feels like they're denser than normal people. Have you ever gotten into a set-to with a little person? They fight like wolverines. Plus there's that whole Napolean complex thing going on too.

  • ||

    And, of course, here we see why Reich's observations must be wrong: As usual Reich thinks that only more state intervention (more democracy) in economies can soften the blows of globalization.

    Didn't learn a thing from those two decades of denying global warming because you didn't like its policy implications, did you, Ron?

    Someone proposes a policy solution you don't like to solve a problem; ergo, there must not be a problem.

  • Mr. Econotarian||

    Reich talks about the increase in Chinese urban poverty, while neglecting the overall decrease in Chinese poverty.

    The number of persons living in poverty in all of China was reduced from 250 million in 1978 to 29.27 million in 2001. That's over 220 million people no longer in poverty.

    Yes, there is more urban poverty in China now than because before 1978 there 1) back then there wasn't much point in poor people coming to a city because there were no jobs there 2) the poor back then had more legal limits on their ability to move.

  • Rhywun||

    Are unemployment rates even comparable between various countries? Who knows whether the Germans fudge that datum more or less than the US does.

    don't be surprised if China becomes a democracy in the next decade

    The commies have a very firm grip on power there--I would indeed be VERY surprised if that happened. If it does, it will only be after an ugly, bloody battle--brought on in part by, yes, economic inequality that this magazine refuses to admit can ever be a problem.

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    Cesar,

    Reich's point about the state of those democracies is that the formally democratic systems of choosing officeholders is undermined by an undemocratic balance of power, which makes the democracies fragile.

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    Mr. E,

    Interesting figures. Where are they from?

  • Mr. Econotarian||

    By the way, Chile now tops Mexico for GDP per capita PPP (although Mexico is ahead in nominal GDP per capita):

    http://www.latinbusinesschronicle.com/app/listado3.aspx

  • robc||

    And this is supposed to be an refutation of Reich's statement that countries like Mexico and Russia are economically successful buy have shoddy democracies?

    Economically successful countries dont have a significant number of their citizens sneaking across the nearest border to find jobs.

    Economically successful countries with significant oil reserves arent behind Costa Rica in GDP.

    I dont know about Russia and my first statement, but the 2nd applies to both Russia and Mexico, at least according to the CIA.

  • ||

    ""Many economically successful nations-from Russia to Mexico-are democracies in name only."

    Economically successful? What can be he talking about? Both Russia and Mexico are oil oligarchies with-how shall we say it?--problematic political histories."

    Ron
    Taking a charitable view I would say that Riech means that they are successfully comparitavely, i.e., compared to much of the world and especially compared to somewhat recent performance of their respective economies. Russia and Mexico have both been seen by many as making economic progress in recent years (from the CIA WorldFactbook: "Russia ended 2006 with its eighth straight year of growth, averaging 6.7% annually since the financial crisis of 1998." I might add they did quite poorly under the more market oriented reforms), though it strikes me that Russia's progress has a lot to do with their fuel resources. And with GDP's per capita of 10,700 and 12,200 they may not be first world nations, but they are defintely outpacing a crapload of other nations.

  • Episiarch||

    joe, hassling Ron for his position on global warming is not quite right, in that he has publicly stated that he believes he was wrong about it and now has changed his opinion.

    His issue with Reich is that the guy was consistently wrong, but has never addressed his incorrect predections and still continues making them anyway.

  • ||

    joe,
    Is Russia less democratic than it used to be? It seems that as bad as the crony capitalism is, Russia is more democratic than it was before. China is more free than it was a decade ago. Economic expansion, when not due purely to mineral wealth, is correlated with expansion of freedom.

    Also, as a general rule, I like to have my negative indicators. They're just as valuable as positive indicators.

  • ||

    Will Robert Reich Please Shut Up

    A-fuck'n-men.

    Absolutely wrong about absolutely everything. Sort of the GWB of the left. At least he's never been allowed to actually implement his horrible policies.

  • ||

    joe: I have read Reich's other books? Have you? They are basically the same old song. Kind of like Paul Ehrlich in the realm of ideological environmentalism.

    Since you brought it up--have you read Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths yet? After all, the chapter on global warming was written by an actual climatologist who has been a lead author in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

    If you ever do read Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths, you would find out that John Christy was arguing in that chapter that is it a "myth" that global warming is going necessarily to be a catastrophe. But then you wouldn't know that.

    As everyone who cares to know knows, I've changed my mind on the significance of global warming. The other myths detailed in the book--overpopulation, resource depletion, cancer epidemics caused by exposures to trace amounts of synthetic chemicals, economic growth necessarily harms the environment, that biotech crops endanger biodiversity, are still myths widely peddled by ideological environmentalists.

    BTW, just how articles on climate have you read in Geophysical Research Letters, Science, Nature, and the Journal of Climate? Have you interviewed scores of climatologists? Attended and reported on scientific and policy conferences on climate change?

    Finally, in your usual haste, you missed the point of the blog item--Robert Reich has not materially changed his policy recommendations since 1982.

  • ||

    robc,

    Economically successful countries dont have a significant number of their citizens sneaking across the nearest border to find jobs. They do if they're next to an even more successful country. People from southern Mexico don't sneak across the nearest border, btw.

    Of course Mexico isn't as economically successful as the US, but it's one of the richest countries in Latin America. It's all relative.

  • ||

    Mo,

    joe,
    Is Russia less democratic than it used to be?


    Yes. Putin has turned the formerly-elected regional governors into Kremlin appointees. Prior to Putin, there were genuinely-competitive elections which were not foregone conclusions, while today, United Russia is a platform for him to be President for Life. Priot to Putin, the government was working to privatize state industries, while under Putin, they have been "coordinated" in a corporatist fashion and handed out to close cronies.

    So, yes, Russia is much less democratic than it was ten and fifteen years ago.

  • Rhywun||

    China is more free than it was a decade ago.

    Not in any significant way. FreedomHouse's own scores have barely budged in 30 years (from 7 and 7 in 1974 to 7 and 6 today). In more concrete terms, illusory "freedom" in China is only offered to the party faithful. The other hundreds of millions have zero freedom.

  • ||

    Ron Bailey,

    joe: I have read Reich's other books? Have you?

    I've read passages for classes, but mainly his theoretical work on competitive advantage and how Ricardo's ideas relate to the "innovation economy" of New England. Why do you ask?

    Oh, right, to pull rank, and make your ad homenim seem less rank.

  • ||

    From the CIA World Factbook -China

    ...130 million Chinese fall below international poverty lines...From 100 million to 150 million surplus rural workers are adrift between the villages and the cities, many subsisting through part-time, low-paying jobs.

  • ||

    acknowledges that joe never EVER attempts to pull rank

  • robc||

    It's all relative.

    I dont grade on a curve. :)

    They do if they're next to an even more successful country.

    This is true, the Dominican Republic has a illegal alien problem due to being next to Haiti. Haiti doesnt have that problem.

    That said, Im not calling Mexico economically successful just because they are richer than Belize and Nicaragua (or is it Guatamala, I always get those backwards). There are only 2 economically successful countries on the American continents (Im intentionally leaving out the caribbean out of ignorance), and 3 more that might be some day soon(CR, Chile, and Mexico). Oh, and Argentina, which has seemly come out of nowhere, now listed at $15,200 by the CIA.

  • Rob||

    "Oh, right, to pull rank, and make your ad homenim seem less rank."

    Lord knows you've never flogged people over the head with the fact that you have a master's degree, right joe?

  • ||

    Yes, Ron, as an economist, Robert Reich comes in a distant second to Roy Rogers. In fact, he comes in a distant second to Trigger. He's awful. But I gotta protest your sleight of hand here: "In 1982, the Reagan Boom was just beginning as his administration dismantled the disastrous "industrial policies" pursued in the 1970s, e.g., a period of wage and price controls and energy price controls."

    The Reagan boom just beginning in 1982? Um, in November 1982 unemployment was 10.8%, a postwar record. What the Reagan folks did was shut down inflation, something Carter lacked the nerve to do, and supercharged spending, an old Roosevelt trick. The Heritage Foundation report you link to shows the Reagan Administration somehow beginning in 1983. Well, it didn't. Let's not forget that Bill Clinton had better figures than Reagan and he turned giant deficits into giant surpluses. But kudos to Ronnie for taming inflation, a tough job.

  • ||

    Right, rob. I don't.

    I did mention it once when someone cast aspersions on my accomplishments in life, but no, as Reinmoose mentioned, I don't pull rank on these threads.

  • ||

    Since Reich's book is about politics and democracy, I don't see how his record on economic policy is terribly relevant.

    Even if we were to take the word of a pundit with a history of letting his political agenda cloud his judgement's word for it regarding that record.

  • ||

    AV: No sleight of hand at all. Reagan turned the screws on inflation and ignited the boom which did in fact begin in 1982. I wasn't using data from the beginning of an administration, but from the trough to the peak of an economic cycle. That's what is relevant.

  • ||

    Right. Joe just usually sticks to citicizing other peoples claims as being unsubstantiated because they refuse to produce data, while himself refusing to produce data to back up his arguments because it is so totally easy to find.
    But no, I was not present for the infamous "master's degree" conversation.

  • ||

    joe: I have read Reich's other books? Have you?

    I've read passages for classes, but mainly his theoretical work on competitive advantage and how Ricardo's ideas relate to the "innovation economy" of New England. Why do you ask?

    Oh, right, to pull rank, and make your ad homenim seem less rank.


    Or maybe he's making a point about having done the appropriate and relevant research. That he is speaking from a position of knowledge, and wonders about the extent of yours.

  • ||

    Hey, Reinmoose, why are you talking about me?

  • ||

    AV: I forgot to add, Reagan cut income taxes too.

  • ||

    "BTW, just how articles on climate have you read in Geophysical Research Letters, Science, Nature, and the Journal of Climate? Have you interviewed scores of climatologists? Attended and reported on scientific and policy conferences on climate change?"
    I felt joe's posts were a tad harsh on ron. But this comeback by ron is truly rank. Yes, ron, you've probably interviewed many climatologists, read a lot of journal articles, and attended many conferences. But then you disagree with what most of the PhD climatologists say about GW in those articles and conferences. So who are we to believe, the consensus of the field of experts, or the guy who interviews them? The reader of the articles or the writers? You mention that you had a climatologist who worked with the IPCC to pull rank, but of course this guy's opinion, as well as yours, was a minority one rebuked by the very panel overall wasn't it?

  • ||

    Warren,

    How, exactly, is having read Reich's books "appropriate and relevant" to the issues I raised?

    How does that relate to the point about whether Mexico and Russia can be characterized as economically successful?

    How is it relevant to the point about Bailey's ad homenim reasoning?

    How is it relevant to the point about Bailey's own history as a negative indicator?

    How is it relevant to the point about Bailey's denial of problems based on his dislike of the politics of those acknowledging those problems?

    How is the question "Have you read Reich's books?" appropriate or relevant to anything I've written?

  • ||

    oh, I'm sorry joe, it was just an extension of my previous thought

  • ||

    Which was also about me, Rienmoose.

    Why are you talking about me?

  • ||

    Freedom House ranks Russia as "Unfree". They rank Mexico as "free". Theres a big difference between those two countries in terms of democratic government.

  • ||

    Ron pulling rank invoking the IPCC: "After all, the chapter on global warming was written by an actual climatologist who has been a lead author in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. If you ever do read Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths, you would find out that John Christy was arguing in that chapter that is it a "myth" that global warming is going necessarily to be a catastrophe."
    The same IPCC's statement on consequences of global warming: "climate change is likely to have wide-ranging and mostly adverse impacts on human health, with significant loss of life"

    Well, ron, as you say the IPCC must know what its doing, so case closed...

  • ||

    joe: if you don't know the answer to your questions, then you won't understand.

    Nice guy: If you care to know more about how my views on climate change evolved over time based on my reading of the scientific evidence and talking with climatologists I refer you to this article.

  • ||

    Cesar-I agree with you, from what I read Mexico is certainly a more free nation than Russia. Not so much because of elections and peaceful transfer of power, they seem to have that in both places. But Russia has some restrictions on opposition organizing and press that I don't think exist in Mexico. Both have corruption problems, but then who doesn't?

  • ||

    What Mr. Econotarian said...

    Anyone who believes that China's economic boom hasn't had a hugely positive impact on the poor is wilfully ignoring the evidence.

  • ||

    joe,

    I'm not going to talk about you. I'm worried that you may get carpal tunnel if I do ☺

    As for Reich, I like to listen to him on NPR (where he is frequently given air time) and try to figure out if he's really a full-blown socialist. Sure sounds like it, and it drives me nuts to hear him on Marketplace, when he clearly doesn't understand the, well, market. I'm not so concerned about his inability to make predictions--except when he's touted as a guy who makes predictions--as I am with his strange worldview.

  • ||

    Ron-I've kept up with that, and I commend your courage for admitting that you were wrong on that issue. I've long bought into GW, because I tend to defer to experts in their own field when I don't know much and that was the consensus. When you first came out with your admission I felt like "oh, so now he's overcoming his ideology." But that was a petty response on my part. You said one thing, argued it, and then capitulated in the face of a wave of facts. That's not disgraceful and does not disqualify you from future discussion. That's what science is about, and the fact that you were wrong and then admitted it, in my opinion, is what makes the harsh attacks by joe a bit unwarranted.

    But my point was that in response to joe you pulled rank in a most rank fashion by saying in effect, hey I read all these journals and have access to all these experts, you don't, so sit down. But that's a crazy argument for someone who actually disagreed, and to some extent still does disagree, with the consensus of most of the experts on that topic.

  • ||

    Not so much because of elections and peaceful transfer of power, they seem to have that in both

    Russia and Mexico both have elections and peaceful transfers of power, yes. But Mexico has multi-party elections with relatively peaceful transfers of power between opposing parties. The last time Russia peacefully transferred power from one political party to another through free and fair elections was, oh, never.

  • PsychoStork||

    World's most dangerous midget

  • ||

    I say bring back the tsar. Then Russia can revolt again, this time installing a Western-style liberal government. A do-over, if you will.

  • ||

    Russia ranks 102 out of 167 nations in the Economist Intelligence Unit's democracy index - a 'hybrid regime' or a deeply flawed democracy. Mexico is 53rd.

  • ||

    The biggest problem with Mexico is its Constitution, which was socialist in conception.

    For example, it explicitly states that private property not as a natural right, but as a privilege granted by the state that can be revoked at any time. It also requires that dozens of industries be under the control of the federal government.

  • ||

    So when is the joe v Ron Bailey Texas Cage death match, anyway?

  • ||

    " DavidS | September 5, 2007, 11:45am | #
    What Mr. Econotarian said...

    Anyone who believes that China's economic boom hasn't had a hugely positive impact on the poor is wilfully ignoring the evidence."


    China's economic boom is a good thing, but don't ignore the fact that Mr. Econotarian's numbers are off by a factor of 4.

  • ||

    Alan Vanneman | September 5, 2007, 11:18am | #

    Yes, Ron, as an economist, Robert Reich comes in a distant second to Roy Rogers. In fact, he comes in a distant second to Trigger.


    As a horseman, I resent this slur on Trigger.

    ;)

  • ||

    Yes. Putin has turned the formerly-elected regional governors into Kremlin appointees. Prior to Putin, there were genuinely-competitive elections which were not foregone conclusions, while today, United Russia is a platform for him to be President for Life. Priot to Putin, the government was working to privatize state industries, while under Putin, they have been "coordinated" in a corporatist fashion and handed out to close cronies.

    So, yes, Russia is much less democratic than it was ten and fifteen years ago.>

    joe,
    You could say that about Russian businesses as well. How many formerly private firms are now state owned? There has been backsliding in freedom under Putin, there's also been backsliding in capitalism. Coincidence? I don't believe so. Crony capitalism != capitalism.

  • ||



    Damn you italics tag.

  • rho||

    Dear Lord,

    Please save us from the meddling of economists by burning all collected data with your mighty eyeball powers.

    Thank you,
    Me

  • Rhywun||

    Anyone who believes that China's economic boom hasn't had a hugely positive impact on the poor is wilfully ignoring the evidence.

    China's leaders are dribbling out only enough of the rewards to the masses to shut them up and keep them in line. Yes, going from no freedom and starving to no freedom and not starving is an improvement. But having no freedom means that the masses are one arrogant collectivist misstep by the government away from starving once again. The average person does not have the freedom to improve himself, which is why millions of people are hanging outside the cities looking for jobs that don't exist yet--and might never exist if rising wages cause America to pull up shop and find someplace cheaper to make all our stuff.

  • jkl||

    And another thread turns into the Joe Show.

    joe, you should start your own blog.

  • ||

    I think Mister Reich has long overstayed his allotted 15 minutes. Foreign Policy magazine should be ashamed of themselves.

  • ||

    I am just entertained on how joe so insistantly defends Venezuala as a democracy, but questions the democracy of Mexico.

  • ||

    I understand the answers to my questions just fine, Ron. And so does Mister Nice Guy, apparently. It was a pretty naked appeal effort to pull rank.

    Anyone who believes that China's economic boom hasn't had a hugely positive impact on the poor is wilfully ignoring the evidence.?

    Fortunately, Reich doesn't assert that there has been an overall increase in poverty, but an increase in urban poverty. Since this is a book about political systems and democracy, this is a rather significant development, since a large body of newly-urban poor has often been a catalyst for revolution or popular dictatorship, while a large body of rural poor has not.

    Mo,

    joe,
    You could say that about Russian businesses as well.


    Yes. And I did.

    Crony capitalism != capitalism. Well, it doesn't equal free market capitalism, but that has hardly been the only sort throughout history, or the sort most commonly found in global trade. Remember, Reich's boogymen here are oligarchy, and undemocratic regimes in bed with the oligarchs.

  • ||

    jkl,

    Not my fault that people want to engage what I write.

    But yeah, I should probably start my own blog. Let me just get this great American novel thing out of the way first.

  • ||

    Rex,

    I would characterize them both as so-so democracies, Mexico maybe a step better.

    Having trouble with that shades-of-grey thing again?

  • ||

    Rhywun
    China has gradually been presenting more economic freedom to their people, if not political freedom. Farmers used to have to produce certain crops, and only certain crops, regardless of their value. There was no incentive to farm efficiently, so if they could produce their full quota of...idk, soybeans and also have room left to plant a more profitable crop for sale, they can now do so. This allows some more demand to be met, widens consumer choice, and additional income for rural farmers.

  • ||

    General question: why is Reagan so widely praised by free-market types when his main economic strategy was to have the government borrow and spend a ton of money?

  • Rhywun||

    China has gradually been presenting more economic freedom to their people, if not political freedom.

    Yes, and that's good. However, I'm a cynical, glass-is-half-empty-type, and I can easily envision those freedoms being taken away at the drop of a hat if it suits the Party's whim.

  • lunchstealer||

    General question: why is Reagan so widely praised by free-market types when his main economic strategy was to have the government borrow and spend a ton of money?

    Easy. Because his economic policy can't be summed up in a one-sentence gotcha question.

  • ||

    I have been to China, and I would say I noticed no overt signs of a police state. On the superficial level that you can understand a place by only being there a few weeks, it didn't feel any different than North America, Europe, etc... It certainly felt like less of a police state than Russia. I even saw protests against the government, heard people publicly declaring the independence of Taiwain with a blowhorn, and talked to plenty of people who critized the government, and no one seemed to be in fear.

    And the Chinese immigration officers are much more friendly and helpful towards Americans than are U.S. immigration officers toward Americans.

    I realize, of course, that the government of China does some pretty oppressive things that you don't see superficially. But I think that people have a very much exaggerated idea of Chinese oppression. It is a totally different country from the Tiananmen Square Massacre days, and virtually everyone there believes that the Chinese government is improving by leaps and bounds.

  • ||

    I can easily envision those freedoms being taken away at the drop of a hat if it suits the Party's whim.

    Entirely possible, but if they do it suddenly I could imagine there also being an overthrowing of the government. China's relative success at de-communizing has been in part due to the slowness with which it is being carried out. Russia is a terrific example of what happens when you take all the state owned industry and sell it off to people who have money after a period of heavy heavy socialism. The people who have money to buy the industries are criminals of large powerful mob families, because everyone else has been relegated to having only what they need.

  • ||

    But my point was that in response to joe you pulled rank in a most rank fashion by saying in effect, hey I read all these journals and have access to all these experts, you don't, so sit down. But that's a crazy argument for someone who actually disagreed, and to some extent still does disagree, with the consensus of most of the experts on that topic."

    And Mr. Nice Guy: Ron has a right to pull rank. He is, after all, the expert, the one who knows far more about this issue than either you, Joe or I and ultimately, one of the main writers on this forum. If he wants to pull rank or simply make a point or whatever, he can. If you don't like it, go elsewhere or start your own forum.

    When the expert pulls rank, it is in his right and more importantly, given his expertise, an obligation to those of us who don't know as much about a subject. After all, Joe can say what he wants, but his expertise on most issues is going to be on a lower scale than the expertise of Messers Bailey, Gillespie et. al.

  • ||

    Rienmoose
    Are you simply pointing out China is reducing poverty and expanding economic freedoms, or prasing them, or both? They are a horrible authoritarian government. Their economic boom might be reducing poverty, and that is a good thing, but they are using blatant state power to make sure the growth is very unequally distributed.
    I realize that around here as long as all ships are rising its not supposed to matter that some are rising much more and much faster than others. But in this case the game is certainly rigged.
    I'm not even sure that all ships rising will justify inequality in all cases. If you got a 5 dollar raise and everyone else in your office got 10,000 dollar raises would you say "well, I'm richer today than yesterday, so yipee?"

  • ||

    General question: why is Reagan so widely praised by free-market types when his main economic strategy was to have the government borrow and spend a ton of money?



    Reagan was a charasmatic advocate of the free-market... even though he was a total hippocrite and did very little to actually make the market any more free. Many people tend to get caught up in the rhetoric of charasmatic politicians, and not pay attention to what the politician actually does.

    It is kind of why many left wing socialist love Bill Clinton, even though he was the best Republican president of the 20th century.

  • ||

    Easy. Because his economic policy can't be summed up in a one-sentence gotcha question.

    Come on - I doubt Reagan was capable of processing any idea that required more than one sentence.

    Seriously, though, the US government under his leadership did borrow a ton of cash to prop up the economy. This does not sound like something a free-market advocate would approve of.

  • ||

    Rhywun,

    A not-so-recent article from the Economist that agrees with your basic position on China...

    http://www.economist.com/opinion/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=8815075

    Which leads to a final obstacle: without an accountable executive branch, the necessary reform of the legal system is not going to happen. As the passage of the property law itself demonstrates, the party is showing itself somewhat more responsive to public opinion than it was in the past. But it still runs a government that does its best to silence most dissenting voices, strictly controls the press, and lavishes resources on the best cyber-censorship money can buy. Property rights are a start; but only contested politics and relatively open media can ensure that they are enforceable.

  • ||

    Ron,

    I guess you mean that in December 1982 unemployment was lower than in November 1982, so that was the start of a "boom"? You have awfully good ears.

  • lunchstealer||

    I thought that it was kinda economic conventional wisdom, or at least trendy popular theory, that excessive natural resource wealth was detrimental to long-term economic stability and democracy because it encouraged kleptocracy. So it would be assumed that Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, and Nigeria would all be experiencing serious problems in both economic and political freedom.

    Notable democracies that have a high resource-to-population ratio, notably Norway and Canada, had largely established democratic rule prior to the discovery of much of their mineral/fossil wealth.

  • ||

    "He is, after all, the expert, the one who knows far more about this issue than either you, Joe or I and ultimately, one of the main writers on this forum. If he wants to pull rank or simply make a point or whatever, he can. If you don't like it, go elsewhere or start your own forum. When the expert pulls rank, it is in his right and more importantly, given his expertise, an obligation to those of us who don't know as much about a subject."
    Geez Sevenmark, you walked right into this one. If your general principle is that when the expert pulls rank, the rest should listen, then you should know that not only do the majority of experts on matters pertaining to global warming disagree with ron, but that ron, excellent journalist that he is, is not a scientific expert on this subject (to my knowledge). Therefore, yes, I will listen to the expert, on this subject, it is not ron bailey (while my own knowledge is suredly less than his, his is not on par with the academic and government professional research scientists who devote themselves to this issue).

  • ||

    @Alan Vanneman

    What the Reagan folks did was shut down inflation, something Carter lacked the nerve to do

    If you're talking about Volker tightening the money supply, that policy actually began under Carter in the waning days of his administration. A case of when everything else fails, do the right thing, I suppose.

  • ||

    Mr. Nice Guy -
    I'm pointing out for the most part, and a little praise for small victories can't hurt. I imagine the Chinese gov't to be one that prefers to be right in all current and former decisions, and therefore operates slower than most of us would like.
    I don't know much about income redistribution in China. If it is deliberately redistributed in an uneven manner as you say, I don't know the details. If you're merely referring to slow growth on the bottom income rungs, remember that they have a huge labor pool and gains will take a longer period of time to materialize. It will probably take another 30 years for them to represent anything like the South Korea of today, though I believe they're headed in that direction... again, industrially. As I said, I'm not fluent in their political happenings.

  • ||

    Actually Niceguy, I didn't walk into anything. If we're talking about discussion on a forum such as Hit & Run, where the lead writer of the post is supposed to be the expert, then his word does have more credence than yours or mine. On that score, he can pull rank if he wants, especially if you want to make an argument that by somehow asking a reader to prove his point, that he's pulling rank.

    In all honesty, it is pulling rank, but it is also demanding a participant in the forum to actually show your cards: If you're going to argue with the expert, offer something other than the shooting off of your fingers. Otherwise, shut up and come back when you do your homework.

    If Bailey is, in Joe's opinion, not coming with all the cards, then Joe should actually prove his point. So should you. So should I. In the arena of debate, those who can't put up would be better off shutting up until they can do so.

    Stepped into it? Looks like you're stuck in something other than mud, my pal.

  • ||

    Volcker does credit Reagan for taking a hands-off apporach as the Fed was doling out some very harsh anti-inflationary medicine, but Carter did suffer from some lousy luck, which he aggravated by being a poor politician. As a result, he is not adequately credited for beginning the trend towards deregulation, and for appointing Volcker in the first place.

    Reagan is rightly credited with helping marshal through, along with others, tax legislation which vastly improved upon the tax code of the 1970s. In particular, I'd re-pass the 1986 tax law again in a heartbeat. It easily is the best tax law crafted since WWII, and anybody who was involved in getting it made into law has reason to be proud.

  • ||

    Sevenmack,

    When the expert pulls rank,

    Are you seriously calling Ron Bailey an expert?

    He is a journalist.
    That is very different from being an expert.
    It is important to keep the two clearly separated.

    Ron Bailey is a moderately well-read layman that talks to experts.

    For more authoritative answers on questions of science, talk to a real expert...
    http://www.drscience.com/
    How does Dr. Science know the secrets of the universe? He has a Masters Degree ... in Science!

  • ||

    ...a forum such as Hit & Run, where the lead writer of the post is supposed to be the expert...

    See, there's your problem right there.

    The writers on this blogs are experts at opinion journalism. The subjects they write about are their fields of interest, not their fields of expertise.

    Ron Bailey is not an expert in climatology, economics, or political science. Nor does he normally claim to be.

  • lunchstealer||

    Come on - I doubt Reagan was capable of processing any idea that required more than one sentence.

    Seriously, though, the US government under his leadership did borrow a ton of cash to prop up the economy. This does not sound like something a free-market advocate would approve of.


    The answer you seek is in Bailey's original post. Hint - start reading from the word 'flapdoodle'.

  • ||

    joe,

    Be fair to Ron.
    He has a BA in economics & philosophy.

    That is an expert compared to some.

  • ||

    FWIW,

    I don't have a problem, for the most part, with Ron Bailey's writing.
    He writes on interesting topics.

    I am disappointed when (as in this posting) he is petty and disingenous, but as a journalist he is at least focusing attention in the right direction.

  • ||

    ...the US government under his leadership did borrow a ton of cash to prop up the economy.

    More like "the US government under his leadership did borrow a ton of cash to finance massive growth in the military..." A mainly free economy doesn't depend on military spending. Reagan gets credit from free marketers for things like deregulation and tariff reduction. You're absolutely right that the Reagan years were not models for fiscal conservatism, although Bush is apparently trying to change that.

  • ||

    Sevenmack
    You're just digging deeper. Read closely: you are saying that one should defer to the expert, in this case ron. But it is ron who is not defering to the experts, in this case for example the IPCC (or the other many professional organizations of experts on this topic).

    If you didn't notice I quoted the actual experts on the subject above (the IPCC) on the potential harmful consequences of GW. And I did so because ron referred to the fact that "his" expert worked for the IPCC. That's about as good of "doing one's homework" that a layman like you or I or joe can do, point to the experts reasoned opinion on the subject.

  • ||

    Definition of journalism: Getting your education in public.

    Also, it helps to back up your opinions with facts or as Senator Moynihan wisely reminded us: "Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts."

  • ||

    AV: Booms can only be identified in retrospect--always darkest before the dawn and all that sort of thing.

  • ||

    I'm in the difficult position of pointing out the obvious, that ron's assessments of GW lack the expertise of the IPCC (or NOAA or NCDC or whatever).
    I don't want to insult or devalue ron and his contributions to reason. I love his writing. He's a big reason why I subscribe to reason. Journalists have a very important job to do, writing well while bridging the gap between expert and layman. It takes as much skill as researching atmospheric warming or whatever. But an expert in the former cannot trump one in the latter on the topic of atmospheric warming. For him to say "well I've talked to the experts and read their journal articles, and even had one write in my book" while the contradicting the very experts is, however, a very bogus pulling of rank...

  • ||

    joe,
    Then Russia is a poor example of the correlation between capitalism and democracy. As Russia became less capitalistic it became less free. That kinda shoots down Reich's argument.

    Crony capitalism != capitalism. Well, it doesn't equal free market capitalism, but that has hardly been the only sort throughout history, or the sort most commonly found in global trade. Remember, Reich's boogymen here are oligarchy, and undemocratic regimes in bed with the oligarchs.

    And authoritarian democracies are a type of democracy. If Putin becomes president for life, he will be elected as such. It's a shitty form of democracy and it is anti-liberal, but you could say the same thing about crony capitalism. Also, one-party democracies are far more common than liberal democracies.

  • ||

    But a journalist can be both an expert at his craft and in whatever subject he covers or studies. Anyone who has ever done the job can tell you that it involves more than just interviewing people and reading journals. In some areas of coverage such as public education (see Jay Mathews or the Indianapolis Star's editorial page), you are dealing with interpreting and studying statistical data. You can't do any of that and not eventually become an expert. In fact, you have to become one in order to do any subject justice.

    In fact, let's take public education. One of the key elements of coverage is interpreting data such as graduation rates. While you can get a national organization to do the work -- if you want to simply use two-year-old data available from the National Center for Education Statistics -- you must do your own work if you're looking to interpret recent (year-old or months-old) state-level data. This means understanding the ratios, how the data is calculated (in order to clean the data up) and being able to give context to the data. None of that can be done without eventually becoming an expert.

    The argument that a journalist cannot be an expert in another field is based on the false belief that people can't become well-versed in a field without some sort of academic credential. But that's a tad ridiculous. The average lawyer can tell you that his paralegal is probably as well versed in the law as he is, if not more. That's because she has to know at least some aspects of the law in order to do her job.

    It isn't bogus for Bailey, a guy who's been writing about science for three decades, to force Joe to prove his point about Reich. It wouldn't be wrong for you, if you were in Bailey's position, to force me to prove my point.

    Sorry Nice Guy, try harder next time.

  • ||

    Mo,

    As Russia became less capitalistic it became less free. Russia has not become less capitalistic; it has become less free-market capitalistic. The control over the economy and the state are in the hands of the bearers of capital just as much, if not more, than they were ten years ago.

    That kinda shoots down Reich's argument. No, it doesn't. Had Reich argued about free-market capitalism (your definition, the one at odds with how it has been used throughout history as well as in Reich's book), then you would be correct. However, Reich did not make that argument. You're making a semantic argument about Reich misusing the word capitalism to mean one thing, when he is using it to mean another. Reich's book is quite clearly talking about what you call "crony capitalism," and the situation in Russia proves his point very effectively.

  • ||

    Sevenmack has clearly never had the experience of trying to explain a complicated subject to a beat reporter.

  • ||

    Sevenmack,

    Ron Bailey didn't ask me to prove any points about Reich. He asked me if I'd read two or three books or journals.

    On the question of actual points I made, he didn't ask me anything.

    You see the difference there, right?

  • ||

    Sevenmack,
    The WSJ reporters are supposedly experts in financial markets, however, they frequently get a lot of things wrong. Reporters often have limited backgrounds in what they cover and learn from hearing and reading rather than doing. Much like academics miss a lot that practitioners catch, reports lack both the academic and practical backgrounds. This gives them limited expertise. They know more than the average man on the street, but less than experts (not to mention, lower level practitioners).

    joe,
    Fine, I'll concede that capitalism includes crony capitalism if you concede democracy includes single party, more authoritarian democracy. Putin is very popular with the Russian people and there's public groundswell for him. So Russia is still democratic by this definition.

    However, considering capitalism is classically defined as private, rather than public, ownership. There's a lot more state-owned companies now than before Putin was in charge.

  • ||

    Actually Joe, I've been on both sides, having done the work and been interviewed. Which is why I can write expertly about what Bailey does whereas you couldn't explain what reporters could do because you've never done it.

    As in any field, there are those who are really good at their jobs and those who aren't. To argue that because of some poor experience with a beat reporter that you will judge all reporters as being glorified stenographers is paint with a broad brush. More importantly, it fails to consider the talents of folks such as Bailey, John Tierney, Jay Mathews and others.

    But then, Joe, to admit otherwise would mean that you would have to give Bailey some credit for knowing what he's talking about. And that, Joe, would hurt your ego.

  • ||

    Actually Joe, Ron was asking you to prove a point. Let's reread the following comments:

    "joe | September 5, 2007, 10:36am | #
    You don't usually see someone going back a quarter century to find grist for an ad homenim attack.

    And as precise an example of an ad homenim attack I rarely see. We shouldn't take seriously Reich's ideas about the interaction between capitalism and democracy, because of what he wrote about economic policy a long time ago.

    Since Bailey book "Global Warming and Other Eco-Myths" is of much more recent vintage, I guess that means we should ignore him, too.

    joe | September 5, 2007, 10:42am | #
    And, of course, here we see why Reich's observations must be wrong: As usual Reich thinks that only more state intervention (more democracy) in economies can soften the blows of globalization.

    Didn't learn a thing from those two decades of denying global warming because you didn't like its policy implications, did you, Ron?

    Someone proposes a policy solution you don't like to solve a problem; ergo, there must not be a problem."

    The first thing you were doing Joe, since you don't actually read what you've written, was complain that Bailey was making an ad hominem attack based on the fact that he pointed out that Reich was trotting out the same old arguments, this time for a different issue. Then you made a snide remark -- referring to Bailey's changes in position on global warming -- that because Reich got it wrong long ago, he remains wrong on everything. Bailey's response -- making the point that you don't know what you're talking about (and you don't) was to ask you whether you've actually read anything Reich has written.

    Bailey was essentially demanding you to prove your argument. You didn't. Enough said.

  • ||

    Enough said.

    Amen to that, and then some. Good golly, what an obnoxious thread.

  • ||

    I learned one thing from this thread.

    Some one named JOE does not know what a Ad hominem attack is.

    Doesn't know how to spell it either.

    He should get a pass there. Nobody spelz gud on teh internets.

  • Nick||

    I just wanted to point out that part of the reason that there are so many more free countries today than in 1972 is that there are about 50 more countries now than there were in 1972.

  • ||

    Mo,

    Japan in the 50s-90 = single party democracy. It was just as good a democracy as ours, but the same party always won in open, competitive elections.

    Other so-called one party democracies, where other parties are outlawed or repressed, and the state is used as a branch of the party to consolidate its power, are not democracies.

    There's a lot more state-owned companies now than before Putin was in charge. Is this true? I'll take your word for it. However, in the broad view, Putin seems quite happy with the crony-capitalist model, where the business owners he's friendly with run their operations more or less as they see fit, for a profit, and just kick back money to him, than an actual socialistic model. IIRC, his nationalizations have centered around utilities, rather than the, ahem, "means of production."

  • ||

    Sevenmack,

    Thank your for quoting me - it makes it much easier to see what the points I made were, and that Bailey didn't, as you asserted, ask me to prove any of them. As I said. Regardless of how that hurts your ego.

    No name guy,

    An ad homenim attack is an argument that X statement is wrong because the person making it is a bad person who can't be trusted. You know, like saying that Reich's point about the interaction of economic policy and democracy is wrong because of what he wrote in 1982.

    But wow, you really got me on that spelling thing! Good one!

  • ||

    Sevenmack,

    I didn't dismiss reporters as stenographers, just pointed out that their work reporting on a subject does not make them experts at it.

  • ||

    Nobody said something Reich said was wrong because of what he wrote in 1982.

    Bailey said Reich was wrong because he's repeating THE SAME THINGS he wrote in 1982.

    That's what Reich does. Over and over again.

    He was wrong in 82, he's wrong now.

    What's the thing about insanity and using the same approach....

  • ||

    Advice on how to "think straight" from a man whose grand policy pronouncements have proven to be always wrong-you've got to be kidding!

    No ad homenim there.

    As a negative leading indicator---whatever Reich predicts, the opposite occurs-don't be surprised if China becomes a democracy in the next decade.

    Nope, nothing at all to suggest that Reich's arguments must wrong because of something that is supposedly wrong with him.

  • ||

    Hey, blank-name-guy who proposes to lecture me on elementary logic:

    Let's walk through the logic of THIS:

    Bailey said Reich was wrong Or, in logical terms, Baily claimed that A is not B

    ...because he's repeating THE SAME THINGS he wrote in 1982.

    ...because the person saying A also said C.

    OK, perfesser, how exactly is that not an ad homenim?

  • Han Solo||

    And while we're at it, Chewie take the perfesser back and plug him into the hyperdrive.

  • ||

    Joe,

    You always got picked for a team last on the playground, didn't you?
    Is that why you always degenerate into a smug prick on these threads when other people question your knowledge?
    Buck up, little camper... I'm sure your parents think you're swell.

  • ||

    If you got a 5 dollar raise and everyone else in your office got 10,000 dollar raises would you say "well, I'm richer today than yesterday, so yipee?"

    Mr. Nice Guy -- if you got a $1,000 raise and someone else in your office got a $10,000 raise, would you petition to have all the raises revoked, including yours?

  • ||

    Deeper and deeper sevenmack.
    Can a nonacademic become an expert? Of course. But the empirical reality is that most experts on science today have terminal degrees. This is how they show that they've understood a subject well enough to generate new knowledge in it. In fact, if you were in a court of law, they'd probably want to see that degree, publications in the field, etc., in order to be qualified as an expert. I'm not aware that ron has a terminal degree or any peer reviewed articles. Of course, though, that is not his job. His job is to translate scientific issues to the layman with a libertarian twist. He does it very well.

    I think most education experts (I know some) would not consider anyone to have developed the expertise necessary to be called an expert on education issues from working out ratio's and data cleaning. These guys are running some very complex multivariate statistical models and are immersed in the literature and how the data is collected. I'm sure the same can be said of other fields, and probably more so for the hard sciences.

    But let me describe the depth of the hole you have dug for yourself. Let's grant that ron is an expert, with a knowledge equal to those in the field with a PhD and a vita stuffed full of peer reviewed articles (a claim I don't think ron has ever made for himself). Then he is still an expert in a very small minority with views contrary to most other admitted experts in the field. For him to appeal to his reading those same disagreeing experts articles, interviewing them and listening to them give lectures as a reason to hold him up as an authority is logically incoherent. You can see that, right expert? Cuz that's what I was pointing out...

  • ||

    Sevensmack,

    Working as a reporter, as I have, and as you have, as Ron Bailey does, does not make one an expert.

    It is not impossible to become an expert through the work that you do as a journalist, but I would say that is a rare, rare happening in journalism.

    It is even rarer in science reporting. Science journalists, who do nothing but report on science, get even the basic facts wrong far too often for me to have faith in most science reporting, and as for their interpretation (Ron Bailey included), well, let's not even go there.

    Journalists that do advocacy work that promote a particular agenda, such as Ron Bailey, are even less likely to provide you with a complete and accurate reporting of any issue they cover.

    That is the nature of advocacy-based journalism...the function of which is to promote a point of view. If the point of Ron Bailey's post today, for instance, had been to fully exam the issues RR brings up, the piece he wrote would have been much different.

  • lunchstealer||

    Technically, I think the logical syllogism would go like this.

    Reich says A in 1982, however B in 1982. Reich says A in 2007, however, B also in 2007. Therefore trend of Reich saying A when actually B.

    There may be some fallacies here, but they're not really "argument ad hominem" fallacies. It's been too long for me to recall if it actually fits begging the question, but if there's a fallacy it's somewhere in these lines:

    Baily says: If Reich Says A in 1982 and A 2007, and the case is not A in 1982 and not A in 2007, then Reich = flapdoodler.

    However, joe contends that Reich says A in 1982 and C in 2007, therefore Bailey's premise is incorrect, so his conclusion is invalid.

  • ||

    tk,

    I was a varsity athlete in high school, before I decided I wanted to do theater instead.

    Sorry about your insecurities. You'll grow up someday.

  • ||

    lunchstealer,

    I think blank name guy sums it up better:

    Bailey said Reich was wrong because he's repeating THE SAME THINGS he wrote in 1982.

    Ron didn't just make a claim about trends.

    Let's look at what he wrote, how he brought Reich's past statements into the argument:

    Advice on how to "think straight" from a man whose grand policy pronouncements have proven to be always wrong-you've got to be kidding!

    As a negative leading indicator---whatever Reich predicts, the opposite occurs-don't be surprised if China becomes a democracy in the next decade.,/i>

    If Bailey had limited his statements to "Robert Reich is usually wrong," that would be one thing. But he went farther than that, and offered that observation as a reason why Reich's argument in this book is wrong.

    Basically, Bailey asserted "not B in 2007," as offered as evidence "Reich said not B in 1982."

  • Urkobold™||

    BY THOR, THE URKOBOLD WILL SMITE YOU A GREAT SMITING IF YOU DO NOT LEARN HOW TO USE ITALICS TAGS! IT IS NOT AN AD HOMINEM ATTACK TO SUGGEST THAT THE ARGUMENTS OF ANYONE WHO REPEATEDLY CANNOT CLOSE A SIMPLE HTML TAG SHOULD BE DISCOUNTED AND PLACED ON THE CLEARANCE RACK.

    THE URKOBOLD HAS SPOKEN.

  • ||

    Ron Bailey's claim is that RR is

    arguing that capitalism is undermining democracy around the globe

    RR's words... Instead, today's supercharged global economy is eroding the power of the people in democracies everywhere.

    There is an important difference between "today's supercharged global economy" and "capitalism," imho.

    Ron's examples re: Mexico, Russia, and China, don't seem to support a charge that RR is talking about "capitalism" rather than particular economic realities... but maybe I am wrong.

  • lunchstealer||

    Wait, do we have to use the 'look at me I'm italicizing it because its latin how awesome am I' tag every time we write ad hominem?

    What about ad houyhnhnm?

  • ||

    As far as the whole logical analysis of Ron's argument.

    It goes more like this...

    RR said X (in 1982)
    Ron Bailey says that X=Y
    Ron Bailey claims that Y predicted result Z.
    Z did not obtain, therefore RR was incorrect to assert Y.

    Now RR says A.
    Ron Bailey says that A=Y.
    Ron Bailey claims that Y now predicts C, so given RR's past inaccuracies we can predict -- not C.

  • ||

    All hail Urkobold!
    And may his Light be given to the faithful, and may his Shadow crush the infidel...

  • ||

    Posting in a thread.

  • ||

    Joe,

    Varsity, eh? Wow. Masters Degree AND Varsity athlete. Your parents must be very proud indeed.
    As for insecurities, I'm not the one on the comment boards here that visciously attacks everyone when backed into a corner, or when called out for moving the goalposts in the middle of a debate.
    Humbleness and self-deprecation can go a long way, Joe.
    You should try them sometime.

  • ||

    Sorry joe, I don't buy your arguments. Putin is doing everything democratically. It's illiberal, but he's doing it with the consent of the governed. He's supremely popular right now, so they give him a lot of leeway. But he gets things approved with the support of the will of the people. Just because we don't like it, doesn't make it not democracy, it's just not liberal democracy.

    Just like I don't like his brand of capitalism doesn't make it not capitalism. You can't have it both ways. If bastardized capitalism counts as capitalism, then bastardized democracy counts as democracy. So by your standard, nothing has changed. However, by my standard, less free markets leads to less free people. Therefore, Reich is wrong by either standard.

    * If you want to talk about how most of the history of capitalism was closer to crony capitalism, I would point to the fact that for most of the history of democracy over half of the governed population had 0 say in their government.

  • ||

    Sorry joe, I don't buy your arguments. Putin is doing everything democratically. It's illiberal, but he's doing it with the consent of the governed. He's supremely popular right now, so they give him a lot of leeway. But he gets things approved with the support of the will of the people. Just because we don't like it, doesn't make it not democracy, it's just not liberal democracy.
    This is the same dilemma that is going on w/ Venezuela and Chavez.
    The man still has democratic authority, but his methods are anti-liberal and seem to lead to more authoritarianism...

  • ||

    Mo,

    Certainly, it is Senator Palpatine's Putin's shining moment of democracy.

  • ||

    Mo, Frank A. & Jim Bob-

    Ever read Fareed Zakaria's "The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad".
    Great book - and it elaborates on your comment(s)

  • ||

    "Mr. Nice Guy -- if you got a $1,000 raise and someone else in your office got a $10,000 raise, would you petition to have all the raises revoked, including yours?"

    False dilemma. Being against economic growth that is unequally distributed does not mean that one has to declare an end to such growth, andy more than one who is against rape is against sex. It just means one advocates that measures be taken to prevent further inequality and/or redressing the past (of course where such inequality is unfair, as in China where the state controls the economy and rewards cronies all the time).

  • ||

    tk,

    I'll check it out.

  • ||

    Being against economic growth that is unequally distributed

    Mr. Nice Guy -- care to define "unequally distributed"? Cause liberals seem to consider that essentially identical to "unjustly distributed", and consider even a normal bell-shaped curve of distribution fundamentally unjust and calling for government theft and redistribution.

    Life under a communist regime results in all kinds of injustice, but you haven't made a convincing case yet, IMO, for the income inequality in China (or the U.S.) being unjust. Some people are more productive. Some people work in fields where there is a higher demand. Nothing unjust that work in more demand, and longer hours worked, results in more pay.

  • ||

    I think a fair inequality is when it is produced by just the factors you speak of, when someone works longer, or smarter.

    An unfair one is where you have state owned industry giving contracts to their buddies and getting kickbacks for it, and things like state controlled labor unions, and things like forced convict labor, which goes on in China.
    http://www.wcl.american.edu/hrbrief/07/2laogai.cfm
    http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&country=7155&year=2007
    http://www.heritage.org/research/features/index/country.cfm?id=China

  • ||

    Thugs with guns run China's economy, heavily "steered" by centralized government industry and financial institutions and with weak protections of private property. Under thse conditions the national product is distributed in a grossly unfair way. In Communist nations often who you know in government is more important for your income wealth than how hard you work and how smart you work. And that strikes me as unfair.

  • ||

    prolefeed,

    A small point.
    A normal curve is a natural distribution.

    Like all things in nature, there is no moral dimension to it. The same is true, in a sense, of the basic daily needs to sustain life.

    The normal curve includes those that would naturally get less than is necessary to sustain life.

    The question of morality (justice) results from contemplating the natural course of affairs, the natural distribution of resources and rewards and reframing our perspective on the distribution away from the group to the individual. From this perspective it is clear that there is usually enough of a resource for every individual in the group to get that which is necessary, without depriving the other individuals of their rewards, or hampering the groups ability to thrive.

    Hayek endorsed the basic logic I have clumsily sketched here.

    The question becomes pragmatic when applied to policy questions.

    Unequal distributions of resources can result in resentment among the have-nots that results in damage to the larger group when the have-nots rise up in revolt. A safety net for the have-nots can be just, pragmatic, and positive for the long-term health of the group.

    If, however, too much is taken from the haves in the group, to the point that they revolt, you again have a potential for harm to the group.

    It is the balance that matters.

    China is far from finding that balance.

    The US has traditionally done a fairly good job, but I don't know that it has ever been ideal.

  • Mark Bahner||

    Some straight thinking from Robert Reich:

    In fact, visit China today and you find the most dynamic capitalist nation in the world. In 2005, it had the distinction of being the world's fastest-growing major economy.



    So, we have country "C" that has a per-capita GDP of $2000, and the next year it has a per-capita GDP of $2200. Then we take country "U," which has a per-capita GDP of $35,000, and the next year it has a per-capita GDP of $36,500.

    According to Robert Reich, country "C" is more "dynamic" and fast-growing.

    Imagine if there was a country with 10 billion people, and the per-capita GDP grew from $100 to $120 in a single year. Wouldn't that be spectacular and dynamic?

  • ||

    Mark B.

    dynamic. adj : marked by continuous usually productive activity or change.

    So, by definition an economy that changed by 10% is more dynamic than one that changed by 4%.

    What's your problem with RR's sentence?

  • Mark Bahner||

    Mark B.

    dynamic. adj : marked by continuous usually productive activity or change.

    So, by definition an economy that changed by 10% is more dynamic than one that changed by 4%.

    What's your problem with RR's sentence?



    Yes, and an economy where the per-capita GDP is $100 one year, and $115 the next year is even more "dynamic" than an economy where the per capita income is even more "dynamic" than an ecomomy where the per-capita GDP goes from $2000 to $2200 in one year.

    So wouldn't it be spectacular to live in that super-"dynamic" country where the GDP grew by an astounding $15 per year (a mind-bogglingly large 4 cents per day)?

    BTW, my quote of Robert Reich was taken from this opinion piece by him:

    Capitalism doesn't require democracy

    China's super-highways are filled with modern cars.

  • Mark Bahner||

    d with modern cars.

    Yeah, what super-highways they have. I just read in Popular Science that the most popular car in China is a knockoff of the Chevy Aveo(?) that costs about $5000. Of course, the crash test results of the knockoff are substantially worse (both occupants killed in the knockoff).

    At the rate its growing, in three decades China will be the largest economy in the world.



    Leaving aside whether China will continue to grow as fast as it is now, or whether the U.S. economy will speed up, there's the tiny fact that China has 4 times as many people as the U.S. economy. Of course, there was no need to remind his audience of that...it might get in the way of the point he was trying to make.

    It already graduates more computer engineers every year than the United States.



    Again, China has four times the population of the U.S.! It's curious that he uses *percentages* o assess the "dynamism" of China's economy, but then doesn't uses an *bsolute value* to assess its computer engineering capabilities. (And notice how he doesn't mention how many Chinese graduates in computer engineering actually come to the *U.S.*, or to Europe, to get their degrees!)

    It's easy to use numbers to make one's point, if one doesn't have any particular interest in telling a complete story.

    Communist, as in communal? Are you kidding? The gap between China's rich and poor is turning into a chasm. China's innovators, investors, and captains of industry are richly rewarded. They live in luxury housing developments whose streets are lined with McMansions. The feed in fancy restaurants, and relax in five-star hotels and resorts. China's poor live in a different world. Mao Tse Tung would turn in his grave.



    So a man who is arguably one of history's greatest mass-murderers may be turning in his grave...because ALL Chinese aren't destitute, the way HE left them? And we should care about this, why??? (Because Robert Reich apparently would also prefer that all Chinese be poor, rather than some poor, and some rich.)

    For years, we've assumed that capitalism and democracy fit hand in glove.



    Speak for yourself, Robert Reich! Any even casual observer of history can see that countries like South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore were capitalist long before they were democratic.

    What history HAS taught is that capitalism will lead more quickly to democracy than socialism will.

    So what is Robert Reich's point? That China will never become democratic, because China doesn't "need" democracy? If that's his point, would he like to place a bet on "Long Bets" to that effect?

    I doubt it. He wouldn't be interested in the possibility that history would judge him to be clueless.

    P.S. Here's a prediction. If China doesn't go to war with Taiwan in the next 23 years, then by 2030 China will be ranked by Freedom House as at least "partly free" in both political and civil liberties freedoms.

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