Economics

Robert Reich Stands Tall for the Separation of Powers

|

Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich, who supports an auto industry bailout, nevertheless agrees that President Bush's unilateral loan plan is illegal and unconstitutional. This shows I'm right! Well, maybe not, but it's an example of a man standing up for a principle even when the principle is inconvenient. Too bad Obama couldn't muster similar courage.

Go here, here, and here for other examples of dissent, all from conservatives or libertarians who (like me) oppose the G.M./Chrysler "rescue" on other grounds as well. If you've noticed legal/constitutional criticism of the latest Bush bailout from people in Reich's ideological vicinity or to his left, point it out in the comments.

[Thanks to Ron Steiner for the tip.]

NEXT: Ride Free, Free Like the Wind!

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Robert Reich is 3’5″ tall. I am not joking. The man is an elf.

  2. The commentary on the Reich’s height is stupid, low-class, and beside-the-point.

  3. Reich writes, If Congress explicitly decides not to appropriate it for a certain purpose, where does the White House get the right to do so anyway?

    Congress was asking Bush to use money from the TARP for an auto bailout for the past month and a half!

  4. I don’t how much I would go around saying that I agree with something Robert Reich said. Yeah, I know, he agrees with you, still…

  5. Yeah, this is weird for me to agree with him.

  6. Congress was asking Bush to use money from the TARP for an auto bailout for the past month and a half!

    To which I would reply: so?

    That’s the now your idea of an appeal to authority? That a minority of congressmen wanted to do something, but got shot down?

  7. Congress was asking Bush to use money from the TARP for an auto bailout for the past month and a half!

    And when they put that in writing and have a vote on it, that might actually matter.

  8. Ugh. AIG was bad enough, but they could at least argue they had an investment go bad as opposed to a failed business model.

    Come on, if we’re not going to let markets tell us when companies fail, why have them at all? Let’s just go back to the tried-and-true “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” economic theory.

  9. Too bad Obama couldn’t muster similar courage.

    YYYEEEEAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!

    MEET THE NEW BOSS!
    SAME AS THE OLD BOSS!

  10. Will there be any sepration of powers when plutocrats run everything?

  11. I have solved the energy crisis. We will hook joe up to a turbine and his spinning will provide more power than a thousand suns.

  12. JW,

    If Congress explicitly decides not to appropriate it for a certain purpose, where does the White House get the right to do so anyway?L

    To which I would repley, read the damn post, and the commentary from Reich which it refers to. They’re about the intent of Congress.

    That’s the now your idea of an appeal to authority? No, RTFA.

  13. Elemenope,

    And when they put that in writing and have a vote on it, that might actually matter. They did. The TARP bill passed both houses of Congresses and was signed by the White House. did you miss that?

    The question is about their intent in doing so, specifically, did they intend for the funds to be available for an auto bailout. Last time I checked, there has never in American history been a distinct vote held to affirm the intent of Congress in how to administer a bill they passed.

  14. Oh, come on Episiarch. At least the others could manage something other than “nuh uh, that’s spin.”

    Let’s review, shall we?

    Congress passed TARP.

    Congressional leadership tells Bush to use TARP funds for auto bailout.

    Bush says no.

    Back and forth.

    Congress votes on additional auto bailout. This bill fails.

    Bush accedes to Congress’s request to use TARP funds for auto bailout.

    Did anyone but me read what Reich actually wrote? He doesn’t even claim that the language of the TARP bill doesn’t allow this, just that the presence of a failed vote to create Fund B for an auto bailout means that it is illegal to use Fund A for an auto bailout, because it shows that they didn’t want him to use Fund A – except, you know, they did, and said so for a month and a half.

  15. Then why was Congress ever involved in the first place, joe? What was all the screaming from Shelby about?

  16. I got pre-butted. Nevermind.

    It’s logical now, albeit ass-backwards.

  17. The TARP bill passed both houses of Congresses and was signed by the White House. did you miss that?

    joe,

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t that bill specifically mention financial institutions? “Administering” the bill would include how to spend-on/giveaway-to financial institutions, not re-interpreting which companies get the money.

  18. BDB | December 19, 2008, 5:19pm | #

    Then why was Congress ever involved in the first place, joe?

    Because Bush initially refused to use the TARP fund for an auto bailout. He could have at any time, but decided he wanted the bailout to come from a different pot. When he didn’t get his way, he agreed to use the TARP funds, as Congress wanted him to.

  19. Oh, come on Episiarch. At least the others could manage something other than “nuh uh, that’s spin.”

    joe, I don’t have to. Your actions are clear to everyone except, seemingly, you.

    How much snow do you have so far, by the way? I’m at 3-4 inches at this point. And how about you, LMNOP?

  20. You gotta love how whenever a corporate bailout gets defeated by Congress, the powers that be just go “LOLz no do it for real now” and then it gets done.

  21. Wondering…

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t that bill specifically mention financial institutions?

    I’m still waiting to see details, but the reports I’ve heard are that the Big Three’s financial arms will be the actual recipients of the funding.

  22. Oh, c’mon, Wondering. The auto companies are financial institutions. They are “institutions” with “finances,” so stop it with the picayune legalisms, already.

  23. We’re at about four inches here, too. Just came in from Round 1 of shoveling.

  24. They are “institutions” with “finances,” so stop it with the picayune legalisms, already.

    Actually, their financial subsidiaries are institutions that lend money, and collect payments, and are incorporates as…wait for it…financial institutions, subject to all of the laws that apply to every other financial institution.

  25. Er, “incorporated.”

  26. If the word “spin” has now expanded to include accurate depictions of objective reality which a segment of political activists find inconvenient, then I plead guilty.

    I’ve always used it differently.

  27. By the way, we did discuss the financial arms of the auto companies here already.

    We’re at about four inches here, too. Just came in from Round 1 of shoveling.

    As a coastal elitist, I refuse to do manual labor and outsource it. Probably to Mexicans, but that’s for the condo association to decide.

    “Mex-Mexicans! They’ll do it! They’ll do anything! Who here knows Spanish?”

  28. But I’ve got to tell you, I’m deeply troubled by what I hear is the administration’s likely decision to give them a bridge loan, when just last week Congress said they can’t have it.

    Call me old-fashioned, but I believe in democracy. And under our Constitution, Congress is in charge of appropriating taxpayer money. If Congress explicitly decides not to appropriate it for a certain purpose, where does the White House get the right to do so anyway? By pulling the money out of another bag? That other bag, by the way, called the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP for short, was enacted to rescue Wall Street, not the automobile industry.

    Now personally, I think there’s more reason to rescue big automakers than big Wall Street banks, but what I want isn’t the issue. It’s what our representatives voted for. When they voted for TARP in October, they didn’t say to the President, here’s a $700 billion slush fund to use as you wish. They said: Here’s $700 billion for Wall Street.

    -Reich

    Did anyone but me read what Reich actually wrote? He doesn’t even claim that the language of the TARP bill doesn’t allow this

    Gold-plated Jesus dancing on the water, Joe.

    What the fuck, over?

  29. Whats one more unconstitutional act by the government we elect.

  30. To which I would repley, read the damn post, and the commentary from Reich which it refers to. They’re about the intent of Congress.

    You mean this?:

    “When they voted for TARP in October, they didn’t say to the President, here’s a $700 billion slush fund to use as you wish. They said: Here’s $700 billion for Wall Street.”

    I don’t give a rat’s ass about what Congress said that they meant to do, but got sidetracked and didn’t vote for it. Either TARP says that you can pour money down a big hole in Detroit, or it doesn’t. I haven’t seen any language that says that it can. Nor do I think that using Sea Lawyer’s tricks to sneak it in the back door by giving it to their financial subsidiaries makes it legal.

    Shit, now *I’m* agreeing with Reich. Fuck!

  31. I’m still waiting to see details, but the reports I’ve heard are that the Big Three’s financial arms will be the actual recipients of the funding.

    Actually, their financial subsidiaries are institutions that lend money, and collect payments, and are incorporates as…wait for it…financial institutions, subject to all of the laws that apply to every other financial institution.

    So I guess as long as any business starts up a “financial institution” subsidiary they’d be eligible for a bailout of the, however unrelated, fundamental business under TARP? Just some paperwork and procedural BS and they’re good to go.

    I guess TARP is more of a blank check to the executive than even pessimists had imagined. I’ll bet the airlines are going to be opening banks any minute now.

  32. Congressional leadership tells Bush to use TARP funds for auto bailout.

    Bush says no.

    Back and forth.

    Congress votes on additional auto bailout. This bill fails.

    Full stop. Game over man, game over.

  33. “We’re at about four inches here, too. Just came in from Round 1 of shoveling.”

    Somebody save Robert!

  34. Joe

    “Congressional leadership tells Bush to use TARP funds for auto bailout”

    Congressional leadership is not congress and absent a vote this is completely irrelevent.

    GMAC is not a subsidiary of GM. To what financial arm are you referring?

    http://www.gmacfs.com/us/en/about/who/index.html

  35. P Brooks,

    Thanks for the quote. As I said, and the quote demonstrates, Reich doesn’t reference the language of the TARP bill at all. As anyone who reads that, except perhaps you, can quite easily see.

    Instead, like I said, he makes an argument about the intent of Congress, an argument I responded to by noting that Congress itself has been calling for Bush to use TARP funds.

    Yes, JW, I mean that. The statement you quoted, about the intent of Congress, which doesn’t reference the language in the TARP bill, but rather, the intent of Congress.

    Seriously, why is this so hard for you people?

    Either TARP says that you can pour money down a big hole in Detroit, or it doesn’t. I haven’t seen any language that says that it can. Have you read it?

    Nor do I think that using Sea Lawyer’s tricks to sneak it in the back door by giving it to their financial subsidiaries makes it legal. Actually, that’s exactly what lawyers do. If you can get it in the back door, it’s still in, in a legal sense.

    Now, a better argument might be that the using TARP funds for an auto bailout, while perfectly legal, is a bad idea because the TARP wasn’t written with the conditions and specifications necessary to do an auto bailout well. But some people have backed themselves into a corner insisting on the question of legality.

  36. guys, guys,

    joe is backing up Bush cause Obama would have done the same thing in this particular situation. He’s setting himself up for future threads.

    Are Cash for Gold establishments eligible for TARP funds? Don’t think they’ll need it. Just wondering…

  37. joe is backing up Bush cause Obama would have done the same thing in this particular situation. He’s setting himself up for future threads.

    Don’t give the game away, dude.

  38. Remember, a monarchial executive is ok if it is YOUR guy in charge!

  39. dfd,

    So I guess as long as any business starts up a “financial institution” subsidiary they’d be eligible for a bailout of the, however unrelated, fundamental business under TARP? Yup. The TARP bill was absurdly broad like that. Remember the initial version, that stated that none of the spending could be reviewed by any legislative committe or court? Congress fixed that, but they still rushed through a very wide-open bill.

    JW,

    Full stop. Game over man, game over. So let me get this straight, JW, Constitutional Scholar: if Congress passes a bill authorizing the government spend money fixing roads, and allows the DOT to decide which roads; then they take up a bill to appropriate more money to fix I-95, and it fails; you’re saying the DOT cannot spend money from the roads bill on I-95?

    That, sir, is moronic.

    junior,

    Congressional leadership is not congress and absent a vote this is completely irrelevent. I will take the majority leadership of the current Congress’s word over that of Reason magazine comment thread denizens, when the question is about the intent of the current Congress. Thanks anyway.

    On the subsidiaries, I just saw that one report. I’ve been looking around, but I can’t seem to find any detailed reporting.

  40. Instead, like I said, he makes an argument about the intent of Congress, an argument I responded to by noting that Congress itself has been calling for Bush to use TARP funds.

    Yes, the intent of Congress as manifested in the language of the bill.

    Some poeple called for bailing out the Big 2.5, others didn’t. It went up for a vote and failed. Stick a fork in it, unless you consider Pelosi and Co. wishing really, really hard as an analog for a vote.

    Seriously, why is this so hard for you people?

    Hard for us? Seriously? We’re the ones having trouble understanding separation of powers?

  41. Wah wah wah, you must be wrong, joe, cuz what you say favors the Democrats. You partisan!

    Yawn.

    If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. Whining that I must be wrong because if I’m right, it would refute a complaint about a Democrat is a statement about your partisanship, not mine.

  42. If TARP gave Bush this kind of wide discretion then shame on Congress, not Bush. If this is true then joe is correct here guys, vent your anger on Congress for giving the power to do this to Bush and then turning around and voting against a different bailout with lots of bluster and such.

    Can I ask something here? How did the bailout that was “defeated” in the Senate defeated? They never did actually vote did they? I should think some GOP senators (like Voinocich or whatever the hell his name is from Ohio) would have voted for it, so was it a filibuster threat that killed it?

  43. Wah wah wah, you must be wrong, joe, cuz what you say favors the Democrats. You partisan!

    Alright, seriously, joe, I have a question. Do you actually think that you’re not a partisan shill, or are you just acting that way because you think people wouldn’t take you seriously if you admitted it? Because I have to tell you that most people probably have their minds already made up, so you might as well come clean.

  44. Let’s review, shall we?

    Congress passed TARP.

    Congressional leadership tells Bush to use TARP funds for auto bailout.

    Bush says no.

    Back and forth.

    Congress votes on additional auto bailout. This bill fails.

    Bush accedes to Congress’s request to use TARP funds for auto bailout.

    Remember how the original version of the bill was three pages long and gave Paulson a blank check to do whatever he wanted? And remember how both the left and the right thought that was a bad idea? So they made a 30 something page bill to give specific direction on what to do. Which was supported by the Congressional leadership (of both parties) but not by the full house. (until it got some pork). If it just took Congressional leadership to authorize Bush and Paulson to take action, they wouldn’t have needed to pass TARP at all.

  45. So let me get this straight, JW, Constitutional Scholar: if Congress passes a bill authorizing the government spend money fixing roads, and allows the DOT to decide which roads; then they take up a bill to appropriate more money to fix I-95, and it fails; you’re saying the DOT cannot spend money from the roads bill on I-95?

    Here’s what the Constitution says:

    All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills….

    The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

    But, you must be right. Nowhere does it say that the POTUS *can’t* spend money that the Congress said that he couldn’t.

    Either TARP says that Bush can do this or it doesn’t. Put up or shut up.

  46. JW,

    Yes, the intent of Congress as manifested in the language of the bill. And the part where Reich quotes the language of the bill, or tells us that it forbids this use, is where, exactly? Oh, right, there is none. As I wrote, he looks at the fact that the auto bailout bill failed and evidence that it was not their intent to see TARP funds used for an auto bailout.

    Here, let me quote the relevant sections, so you can tell me where he talks about the language of the TARP bill, as opposed to 1) the auto bailout bill going down and 2) the intent of Congress:

    If Congress explicitly decides not to appropriate it for a certain purpose, where does the White House get the right to do so anyway? By pulling the money out of another bag? That other bag, by the way, called the Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP for short, was enacted to rescue Wall Street, not the automobile industry.

    Nope. Not seeing anything about the language of the TARP bill. Perhaps it’s my browser settings.

    Some poeple called for bailing out the Big 2.5, others didn’t. It went up for a vote and failed. Creating a separate fund for the bailout failed. That was what the bill was for. Once again (and apparently I’m going to have to repeat this over and over and over, because people don’t want to acknowledge it), THE PEOPLE WHO BROUGHT UP THAT BILL WERE THE ONES WHO, BOTH BEFORE AND AFTER, WERE SAYING TARP MONEY SHOULD BE USED. You’re telling me their intent was one thing; they – the ones whose intent we’re talking about – are telling me the opposite.

    THAT is your game, set and match.

    Hard for us? Seriously? We’re the ones having trouble understanding separation of powers? No, nobody is having trouble understanding separation of powers. You, on the other hand, seem completely baffled by the concept of Congress’s intent.

  47. Episiarch, I don’t want to talk about me. I want to talk about auto bailouts.

    I write what I think is true, about the subject of the thread. Why is that so hard for you to get your head around, that I might think differently than you? In case you haven’t noticed, you’re a fringe of a fringe, and something like a hundred plus million people in this country alone agree with my general ideas, as opposed to yours.

  48. I don’t know if joe is correct or not, but here is why I wouldn’t argue against him if I did not know for sure: you’d be taking the position that Congress had not done something irresponsible like give the Executive very wide discretion on how to spend the TARP money.

    And who the f*ck here would count on that?

  49. You can shoehorn powers into broad based bills, but that doesn’t make it the right thing to do. TARP was sold to the public as a plan to support financial institutions, not auto makers.

    A rushed through bill? Where have we been screwed by that before?

  50. “A rushed through bill? Where have we been screwed by that before?”

    Right here buddy.

  51. Epi
    I guess how I can see joe siding with W Bush against Robert Reich could possibly be partisan spin, but it doesn’t seem immediately obvious to me.

    I imagine joe and I and some others seem to consistently fall to the left of your views because our actual views are, well, to the left of yours. And we try to be consistent on that…

  52. What if the Patriot Act and TARP somehow spawned?

  53. Either TARP says that Bush can do this or it doesn’t.

    EXACTLY! This is about what TARP authorizes.

    (BTW, your little diversion about “it doesn’t say Bush can’t spend this money” is pointless, and has nothing to do with my argument).

    The TARP bill says that the Secretary of the Treasury can spend the money on financial institutions. If, as the report I saw stated, they are going to spend the money by going through the automakers’ financial insititutions, that’s that.

    It doesn’t matter if I’m a Democrat, if Barack Obama is a Democrat, if Congress later defeated another bill, or if you think it’s a bad idea to bail out Detroit.

    If they’re going to spend money on the Big Three’s financial institutions, then that’s that. It’s legal, and Reich’s argument is wrong.

    (BTW, if I agreed with Robert Reich, who I voted for in a Democratic primary, would that also prove what a terrible, terrible partisan shill I am? I know, I know – of course it would.)

  54. a hundred plus million people in this country alone agree with my general idea

    joe, I know you’re a big fan of democracy. Try this one on for size: 6 out of 10 Americans oppose the auto bailout. Source cnn.com: http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/12/03/auto.poll/

  55. Aren’t you all actually arguing about separation of undelegated powers?

    I understood that the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2004 changed the definition of financial institution to mean pretty much anything that has or has heard of finances. That may have been just for the purposes of that bill and its ilk (FISA, PATRIOT, etc.)

  56. Holy fuck joe. I’ve seen you arguing some pretty weak shit before, but this takes the cake. Congress wanted to do it, but didn’t, so we can do it anyway.

    That, sir, is delusional.

  57. If Al Gore had been President in 2001, joe would be defending me too.

  58. I guess how I can see joe siding with W Bush against Robert Reich could possibly be partisan spin, but it doesn’t seem immediately obvious to me.

    Dude, I merely calls ’em as I sees ’em. Note that I’m not giving you a hard time.

    On a side note, my beers and Vicodin are kicking in bigtime. There’s not much to do in a snowstorm.

    In case you haven’t noticed, you’re a fringe of a fringe, and something like a hundred plus million people in this country alone agree with my general ideas, as opposed to yours.

    Appeals to authority/popularity are meaningless.

  59. “If, as the report I saw stated, they are going to spend the money by going through the automakers’ financial insititutions, that’s that.”

    Hey, that is kind of smelly though, that’s a pretty big weasel there, if technically true.

  60. idiotface,

    So what?

    JW,

    Congress wanted to do it, but didn’t No, and I’ll explain it to you again: Congress DID do it. They did it when they passed the TARP. The people who actually passed the TARP have said that this is what they did. They said that before Bush stated he didn’t want to use TARP money for Detroit. They said that after Bush said he didn’t want to use TARP money for Detroit.

    Here, I’ll write it five times on this comment, so I won’t have to write it one time each on five more comments. Ready?

    Congress authorized this when they passed the TARP bill.

    Congress authorized this when they passed the TARP bill.

    Congress authorized this when they passed the TARP bill.

    Congress authorized this when they passed the TARP bill.

    Congress authorized this when they passed the TARP bill.

    Has it gotten through your thick skull yet?

  61. joe,

    Remember back in ’05 when the Republican Congressional Leadership was telling us that the AUMF against al-Qaeda — which was approved by Congress — authorized warrantless wiretapping? Were you taking their word for it back then?

  62. random excerpts from TARP: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=110_cong_bills&docid=f:h1424enr.txt.pdf

    SEC. 2. PURPOSES.
    The purposes of this Act are-
    (1) to immediately provide authority and facilities that the Secretary of the Treasury can use to restore liquidity and
    stability to the financial system of the United States; and
    (2) to ensure that such authority and such facilities are used in a manner that-
    (A) protects home values, college funds, retirement accounts, and life savings;
    (B) preserves homeownership and promotes jobs and economic growth;
    (C) maximizes overall returns to the taxpayers of the United States; and
    (D) provides public accountability for the exercise of such authority.

    Are GM and Chrysler part of the financial system of the United States? Isn’t the fact that GM equity is at a 60 year low and Chrys is private mean that trying to solve 2A is either too late or not applicable? I’ll grant you that 2B may be accomplished, but then where do you stop?

  63. Appeals to authority/popularity are meaningless.

    Good thing I didn’t make one.

    “My position is true, because 100 million people agee with me.” Appeal to authority.

    “My position is genuinely held, and I offer as evidence the fact that 100 million people agree with me.” Not an appeal to authority.

    For my next trick, I will explain why the sentence “JW is a dimwit” is not an ad homenim.

  64. If, as the report I saw stated, they are going to spend the money by going through the automakers’ financial insititutions, that’s that.

    GM doesn’t even have a financial institution, assuming GMAC even qualifies for that label. GM doesn’t own controlling interest in GMAC, only a minority of shares.

  65. cunnivore,

    Back in 05, the people who passed the AUMF were saying that authorizing wiretapping was NOT their intent.

    This time, the people who passed the TARP bill are saying that this is their intent.

  66. “Note that I’m not giving you a hard time.”

    Epi, I appreciate that. I’m probably a liberal I confess, and I tend to vote Democratic, but as I hate shills I try not to be one.
    I can tell you right off the bat some areas where I almost violently disagree with the average Democrat/liberal on:
    1. Gun control
    2. Affirmative action
    3. Immigration
    4. Sin taxes

    I can also say that most of my admired national political figures are Republicans (John Warner, Chuck Hagel, Arlen Specter, Richard Lugar, John McCain and the guy I want to run for President Gary Johnson; on the left all I can think of is Jim Webb, Byron Dorgan, Bill Richardson and Barak Obama, note many of these are newcomers).

  67. I think a major problem are any of these broad bills. Hey lazy ass Congress, fill in more of the f*cking gaps.

  68. Back in 05, the people who passed the AUMF were saying that authorizing wiretapping was NOT their intent.

    You mean some of the people who passed the AUMF were saying it was not their intent. Just as some of the people who passed TARP (eg, Senate Republicans) are saying it was not their intent.

  69. Kolohe,

    On the legal question of whether the auto bailout is consistent with that language, the standard is “rational nexus.” Is there a rational nexus between preventing the Big Three automakers from shutting down, and keeping the financial system liquid and stable?

    This, BTW, is a different question than the one Reich raised and I disagreed with him about – the intent of Congress.

  70. “My position is true, because 100 million people agee with me.” Appeal to authority.

    “My position is genuinely held, and I offer as evidence the fact that 100 million people agree with me.” Not an appeal to authority.

    You ignoring the “popularity” part of that is exactly the kind of behavior I expect from you, joe, and don’t think I don’t appreciate it.

    I can tell you right off the bat some areas where I almost violently disagree with the average Democrat/liberal on

    That’s exactly the point. Blind defenses of Obama by certain people, on the other hand, are.

  71. I think with the AUMF you had a broad bill (“we authorize the President to take action against these terrorists”) but we also had specific statutes governing wiretapping (FISA laws) and a common cannon of construction is that specific trumps general.

    I’m not sure we have that here in this essentially an appropriations bill.

  72. Whoops, I meant “are also the point”.

  73. MNG-
    exactly.

    Here’s the loophole they’re driving their Aztek through:

    OFFICES; AUTHORITY.-
    (1) AUTHORITY.-The Secretary is authorized to establish
    the Troubled Asset Relief Program (or ”TARP”) to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, troubled
    assets from any financial institution, on such terms and conditions as are determined by the Secretary, and in accordance
    with this Act and the policies and procedures developed and published by the Secretary.

    Where as mentioned above (or in a different thread) the def of ‘financial institution’ includes the words “not limited to” a bunch of types of financial insititutions.

  74. I think libertarians should be working their ass off to get this guy to be the GOP nominee:

    https://www.reason.com/news/show/31203.html

    I’d vote for him in a heartbeat.

  75. cunnivore,

    You mean some of the people who passed the AUMF were saying it was not their intent. Just as some of the people who passed TARP (eg, Senate Republicans) are saying it was not their intent. I recall it was the White House, not any faction of Congress (let alone the leadership) who made the argument that the AUMF authorized wiretapping.

    This time, it was Congress itself, in particular the Congressional leadership, who first put forward the idea that TARP funds were appropriate for an auto bailout.

    I think that’s a significant point – it isn’t the executive who made the assertion that this use of the program is consistent with authorized powers, but Congress itself.

    If Barack Obama or George Bush were proposing to use TARP money for an auto bailout, and Congress was objecting, that would be separation of powers issue, and I’d argue for Congress’s perogative.

  76. Oh, Episiarch, stop whining and pass out already.

  77. kolohe
    You are the master of the retrieval of knowledge from the internet. Wow. I’m still wowed at when you actually looked up the educational attainment of all the US governors during my debate on Palin’s qualifications. And now here we all are, debating something that hangs on the language of the bill, and you look it up. Noone else seems to have taken the time and knowledge to do that (Epi has a good excuse, one that has inspiried me to poor me some Gatorade and vodka and settle in tonight).

    In short, you da man. I bow to your expertise.

  78. the intent of Congress.

    What kills me is that you’re probably right, the intent of congress may be different than what is stated in the section of the bill titled “PURPOSES”. Just like Vitter and Spitzer ‘purpose’ for employing prostitutes did not have the ‘intent’ of cheating on their wives.

  79. MNG | December 19, 2008, 6:30pm | #

    I think a major problem are any of these broad bills. Hey lazy ass Congress, fill in more of the f*cking gaps.

    I think the issue here is haste, not laziness.

    In the AUMF, TARP, and USA PATRIOT ACT, they insisted on passing big, broad bills intended to be the comprehensive response very quickly, instead of passing something quick to deal with the immediate issues, and then taking up a bigger bill with the time they bought. I commented on this when they were debating the first TARP bill.

  80. joe
    Do you think it’s a pretty strained, though I admit possible, interpretation to see automakers financial wings as financial institutions under TARP?

  81. This time, it was Congress itself, in particular the Congressional leadership,

    The Congressional leadership is not Congress, joe. To return to the warrantless wiretapping example, assume for the sake of arg that the Congressional leadership did assert that the AUMF authorized warrantless wiretapping. In that case, would you accept that the AUMF did indeed authorize it?

  82. Furthermore, joe, you should recognize that your current argument would sanction the Congressional leadership leaving certain language out of a bill so that it would pass, and then claiming after the fact that they meant for that language to be in the bill, so now the language that was not in the bill should be treated as if it was. You don’t see a problem with that?

  83. MNG,

    I don’t think the classification of their finance agencies as financial institutions is as much of a strain as claiming that the money going to the automakers is really going to a “financial institution” (even with the finance agency figleaf, or that keeping the automakers afloat and employing people is equivalent to “the liquidity and stabilty of the financial system.”

    I mean, financial services companies are financial services companies, even if they’re only they’re company specific, but on those other two points, there are a couple of intermediate steps of logic you have to take.

  84. cunny
    I don’t think joe is arguing that these broad bills are GOOD, just that the wide discretion used in this case was in fact authorized.

    See his 6:44 post.

    But hey, I’m Mister Nice Guy and perhaps I’m being too charitable 😉

  85. While I think it’s a pretty strained interpretation I am of course on record here that those who voted for TARP should have voted for auto bailout.

    I can see those who oppose both bailouts.

    I can see those who are for both.

    But those who were for TARP but now raise cain over the automaker bailout strike me as politically motivated asses (reverse class warriors or anti-union in their motivations or defending their home industry concerns).

  86. cunnivore,

    The Congressional leadership is not Congress, joe. No, but on the question of Congressional intent, they are a pretty damn definitive source.

    To return to the warrantless wiretapping example, assume for the sake of arg that the Congressional leadership did assert that the AUMF authorized warrantless wiretapping. In that case, would you accept that the AUMF did indeed authorize it? I might, if not for the existence of the FISA bill that MNG brought up.

    Let’s say Congress has passed a specific auto bailout bill, and it included all sorts of conditions Bush didn’t like, as well as language stating that it was the sole method of bailing out Detroit. If Bush then went around that, and sent the automakers a pile of money from the TARP fund with no strings attached, and did so over the objections Congress, who said that it was not their intent to use TARP to bail out Detroit, that would be the equivalent of the wiretapping end-run around FISA.

  87. Hey Epi, have you checked out the (canceled) HBO series Rome yet? I’m digging it almost as much as the Deadwood I got turned on to this Summer.

  88. MNG, joe called you a thick skull at 6:24:

    Congress wanted to do it, but didn’t No, and I’ll explain it to you again: Congress DID do it. They did it when they passed the TARP. The people who actually passed the TARP have said that this is what they did. They said that before Bush stated he didn’t want to use TARP money for Detroit. They said that after Bush said he didn’t want to use TARP money for Detroit.

    Here, I’ll write it five times on this comment, so I won’t have to write it one time each on five more comments. Ready?

    Congress authorized this when they passed the TARP bill.

    Congress authorized this when they passed the TARP bill.

    Congress authorized this when they passed the TARP bill.

    Congress authorized this when they passed the TARP bill.

    Congress authorized this when they passed the TARP bill.

    Has it gotten through your thick skull yet?

  89. Maybe Paulson should have required the recipients of TARP funds to lend to the automakers as a condition of the assistance.

  90. No, cunnivore, I called you a thick skull.

    MNG hasn’t misstated my argument a single time.

  91. Cunny,
    I’m not sure he did. As I said upthread while I find the interpretation strained it most certainly is possible. And as I said upthread, that’s the fault of Congress. I actually think joe might agree with me, and I think you, that TARP should not have been written in a way that it could possibly be read to authorize this move.

    Before the night is through MNG is gonna heal many divisions on this site!

  92. The Congressional leadership is not Congress, joe. No, but on the question of Congressional intent, they are a pretty damn definitive source.

    You still don’t see the problem with letting the Congressional leadership essentially insert new language that wasn’t voted on into a bill that’s already passed?

  93. I would never misstate your argument, joe. Doing so would make your argument look better.

  94. I can see Riech’s point too: given that the interpretation of lending money to the financial wings of the autocompanies is strained, and then given that later Congress explicitly refused to enact direct aid to the automakers in any form, it most certainly seems that they never intended for TARP money for this purpose.

    But the language Congress passed could support this. They were just stupid.

  95. GMAC is not owned by GM. I’ll be nice and not comment on the dimensions of anyone’s cranium.

  96. cunny
    I think you, joe and I would all be offended by egregious violations of what we think is the rule of law.

    You’re saying that this kind of thing violates that because Congress never intended, when they voted to pass TARP, for TARP money to be used to bailout the auto industry. That sounds the most plausible to me.

    joe is saying that the foolishly broad language in TARP can be seen as allowing this, and while I think it’s strained I admit is it plausible (the language is pretty stupid).

    If joe can see that the interpretation is pretty strained (he did above) and you can see that it is at least plausible, then we really have no dispute here. Really. We all support the rule of law here.

  97. When Congress gives the Executive a broad grant like this, even when the Executive’s reading is not the most plausible one given teh language and surrounding circumstances, if it is plausible and technically supported by the language of the passed bill, then I don’t think we’ve got a technical violation of the rule of law.

    But we have one in spirit, I agree.

    I think where joe might add something is that he claims that at the time TARP was passed, regardless of the language (which can be given an, albeit strained, endorsement of using TARP money for auto bailouts), a vocal intent of those passing it was for it to indeed be used that way.

  98. joe-
    I still think your conflation of ‘Congressional Leadership’ and ‘Congress’ is flat out wrong. ‘Congress’ only says what a majority (or in some cases, supermajority) of it’s members agree to. In some cases, (mainly intel/natl security oversight type stuff) “Congress” has authorized (by majority vote) the “Congressional Leadership” to speak for them. TARP was obviously not one of those cases. (The use of TARP for automakers is however, as mentioned above, likely a legal use of funds because Congress – and Congressional leadership – as they always do these days , defer to the executive because they refuse to take any responsiblity for anything.)

    Here is something that likely happened from ’02 to ’06. ‘Congressional Leadership’ intoduced a bill with the support of the White House. The minority party wanted some modifications to bring it to a vote. For procedural reasons the ‘Congressional Leadership’ acquiesed to those changes. Then Bush signs the bill, but in his signing statement, said he’s going to disregard those minority party changes. But since the “Congressional Leadership” and the President agree, are you still OK with this?

  99. cunnivore,

    You still don’t see the problem with letting the Congressional leadership essentially insert new language that wasn’t voted on into a bill that’s already passed? No, I see that point, I just don’t think that’s what’s happening here.

    If this was a tightly-crafted bill that clearly did not allow for an auto bailout, but the Congressional leadership decided to claim there was a secret codacil they totally meant to attach, that would be one thing.

    But this language is broad enough that the auto bailout can fit in there.

    And certainly, while we’re talking about Congressional intent, Reich’s claim that the auto bailout bill proves that Congress obviously never intended for TARP money to be used for this is strongly refuted by the fact that before anyone dreamed of an auto bailout bill, the Congressional leadership and most of the majority party was asking Bush to use the TARP money to bail out Detroit.

  100. Oh, Episiarch, stop whining and pass out already.

    Nice try, joe. Try harder, please. I may not be the hard-drinking animal that you are, but I do okay.

    Hey Epi, have you checked out the (canceled) HBO series Rome yet? I’m digging it almost as much as the Deadwood I got turned on to this Summer.

    No, haven’t seen it. Deadwood was fantastic and I was curious about Rome but I just haven’t had the time. I’m actually just catching up on Heroes season 2 right now.

  101. Epi
    I’m a complete comic book mark and thought I should have got in on the ground floor for Heroes, but I have this aversion to network tv post-Twin Peaks/Northern Exposure. It’s not rational but there you go.

    Anyway, if Deadwood is a 9 out of 10 I would give Rome a 8 out of 10. Check it out. Both have that neat thing of having historical characters you’ve heard of wandering in and out of the storylines…

  102. Kolohe,

    On the issue of Congressional leadership, my point rests on two planks – what they were saying about TARP before there was an auto bailout bill, but also that it was they, the Democratic Congressional leadership, who brought up the bailout bill.

    Reich makes the argument that since Congress rejected a bailout bill, it shows that they didn’t want the President to use TARP money for a bailout. But what if it had passed? Would he (and Sullum and the people on this thread) be arguing that since Congress passed a bailout bill, it shows their intent to bail out Detroit, so the President can give them a bailout from the TARP funds? Clearly not – that would be absurd. Passing a bailout bill with elements X, Y, and Z would absolutely not demonstrate approvel for a bailout without those conditions.

    So, since both passing and rejecting an auto bailout bill would demonstrate that TARP funds were not intended to be used like this, it cannot be the outcome of the vote that demonstrates that, but merely that it was the taking up of a separate bailout bill that proves that TARP was not intended for a Detroit bailout.

    But here’s the thing – it was the Congressional leadership who took that bill up. Pelosi and Reid marked it up and lobbied for it – the same Pelosi and Reid who said TARP can be used for a Detroit bailout. So, clearly, taking up the auto bailout bill does not demonstrate an aversion to using TARP for Detroit, either.

  103. Hey Epi, have you checked out the (canceled) HBO series Rome yet? I’m digging it almost as much as the Deadwood I got turned on to this Summer.

    No, haven’t seen it. Deadwood was fantastic and I was curious about Rome but I just haven’t had the time. I’m actually just catching up on Heroes season 2 right now.

    Rome was really excellent. I did like how they avoided niceing up the brutal Romans, and also avoided all the Shakespearian cliches from JC.

    And the nudity was seriously out of control. In a good way.

  104. I may not be the hard-drinking animal that you are, but I do okay.

    I’m afraid, Captain Vicodin, that you have me confused my much younger self.

  105. LMOP
    Agreed on the nudity. One of the most “snatch-y” shows imo, though I have a complaint that they had much more in the early episodes (to hook us in?).

    Yes, I totally like the non-pc depiction of the two main characters, among others. Romans would be like that, or more brutal even.

  106. If Rome has a fault, vis-a-vis Deadwood, it is that there are no characters quite as powerful as Bullock and Al, and no rivalry with the same tension as what existed between them.

    I would also think libertarians would like Deadwood as government is certainly depcited in all of its possible self-serving corruption.

  107. So, who has standing to actually file a lawsuit challenging Bush’s unilateral bailout?

  108. Joe,

    I haven’t seen any report yet claiming that the money is being funnelled through the financial services subsidiaries of GM and Chrysler.

    I know you’ve said you saw that, but it had no detail – but I haven’t even seen the low-or-no detail version. Not even the Bloomberg articles on the auto bailout say that. The mechanism of the bailout – and any question at all of its legality – is absent from the finance news articles I have come across.

    Strictly speaking, GM doesn’t have a finance subsidiary any more. They spun it off. It has a separate balance sheet and separate majority ownership, and GM can’t pillage its balance sheet just because it wants to. So I’m still trying to understand the TARP arrangement here.

    It’s at least possible they’re doing it the way you say, in some way I just currently don’t understand. Even a link to a low-detail report would be helpful as a starting point. Because it’s also possible, given that this is the Bush administration, that they aren’t making even a rudimentary effort to make this plan fit into TARP, because they figure that they can do whatever the fuck they want and it doesn’t matter if it’s legal. That’s how they do everything else, after all.

  109. Although there is a crucial scene which I think shows how much some government is justified. Its when the camp first forms a government in order to attract inclusion into the Dakota government. Charlie Utter is named “fire marshall” or something and he is seen in a tavern citing them. This is important if one knows the history of Deadwood, that the Gem burned down and fires really hurt many people there, quickly spreading from dumbass one to everyone else. In a town where wooden establishments were built next to one another it makes sense to “coerce” your neighbor to follow basic fire regulations.

  110. I would also think libertarians would like Deadwood as government is certainly depcited in all of its possible self-serving corruption.

    Deadwood is an excellent example of how anarcho-capitalism works (or anarcho-syndicalism, I am fuzzy on the exact boundaries of each terms.) But it also shows that it can only be a temporary condition, a few years at most, likely not even lasting a generation. Eventually it will devolve either into gangsterism, feudalism, or some Yankton cocksuckers will take it all away.

  111. I’m afraid, Captain Vicodin, that you have me confused my much younger self.

    joe, if you understood how weak Vicodin is, you wouldn’t focus on it. Now the suboxone is another story. Though I can really live without the naloxone component.

    I’m a complete comic book mark and thought I should have got in on the ground floor for Heroes, but I have this aversion to network tv post-Twin Peaks/Northern Exposure. It’s not rational but there you go.

    Network TV has gotten significantly better becuse of the cable competition. You might want to fight your aversion and give stuff a try.

  112. Robert Reich is 3’5″ tall. I am not joking. The man is an elf.

    I think they prefer to be called midgets.
    “Munchkins” is also acceptable.

  113. “Network TV has gotten significantly better becuse of the cable competition. You might want to fight your aversion and give stuff a try.”

    I’ve heard this a lot lately. After Rome I think I’ll try Heroes. Thanx

  114. I’m not sure why anyone here would be looking to the text of TARP or to the intent of Congress when they passed it. Paulson and the White House have already told us flat out that whatever the original purpose was is irrelevant compared to their greater wisdom for its uses. Paulson even refuses to use the whole thing for Wall Street! He fed a bunch to his buddies and now is waiting for them to come back for another round! It has nothing to do with the intent of Congress or the language contained in TARP. Paulson and the WH are the ONLY entities capable of understanding what that money should be used for, and they are the ONLY ones who can dish it out appropriately.

    And where the fuck was Reich during the entire Bush administration? Separation of powers … I’d be laughing hard if I wasn’t puking.

    And idiotface, please don’t cite polls as any kind of definitive research.

    The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll was conducted by phone, with 1,096 adult Americans questioned.

    Obviously a broad cross section of America … but does it really represent All Americans? Nope.

  115. After Rome I think I’ll try Heroes.

    Honestly I’d start with Lost, Life, or Terminator, first. They seem a bit more “put together” than Heroes, which has an annoying tendency to use the double-barrel shotgun style of plotting plot threads, and is not as well-written as the other three.

    Don’t get me wrong; Heroes is often fun. But if you’re looking for a quality show to restore your faith in network television, probably not the first choice.

  116. James
    If the adult Americans questioned were chosen randomly then it probably is VERY representative of All Americans.

    I have no evidence of this, but I bet Reich was pretty critical of the entire Bush administration without knowing for sure…Given that he was a left wing part of the last Democratic Administration…

  117. I think the nature of commercials destroys network shows. The nature of commercial television is that they must write for 12 minutes and keep the audience, and then the next 12 minutes and keep the audience, etc. This is what was so wrong with the old Star Treks. They followed the formula: get into trouble, cliffhanger, commercial; escape plot one that must fail, commercial, escape plot two that must fail, commercial, resolution.

    This formula totally killed otherwise neat shows like the Wild, Wild West. In almost every episode there are two ingenious escape angles which are doomed to fail to satisfy commercial breaks, and then some forced half-assed resolution…

  118. Dude, let’s not harsh on Star Trek, mm-kay? While LMNOP’s recommendations are good, I also suggest Supernatural, House, or The Office.

    They don’t compare to HBO stuff but they are good nonetheless.

  119. Epi
    Star Trek, in its many variations, has always been great.

    Early Star Trek great because it was so differnt, formula or not.

    STNG great for so many reasons: Data, Patrick Stewart, Worf, the Borg, etc.

    Deep Space Nine great, the wormhole beings, the big war at the end, including Q in an episode.

    Voyager-Uh, I didn’t like that one so much.

    Enterprise-uh, yeah, that one not so much either.

    House? Are you serious? The commercials look terrible. Fox?

  120. House? Are you serious? The commercials look terrible. Fox?

    House is fantastic, but it’s a show where it is critical that you watch at least the first season first, because the characters and their interactions are the funnest part and our fairly subtly wrought at some turns.

    I think the nature of commercials destroys network shows. The nature of commercial television is that they must write for 12 minutes and keep the audience, and then the next 12 minutes and keep the audience, etc. This is what was so wrong with the old Star Treks. They followed the formula: get into trouble, cliffhanger, commercial; escape plot one that must fail, commercial, escape plot two that must fail, commercial, resolution.

    Fringe is interesting for attempting to address this problem, if for no other reason. If I understand it correctly, the network for that show has an arrangement where there are far fewer commercial breaks, which are more expensive and are sold in slightly larger chunks. Which has the neat side-effect of making most of the ads full-length trailers for movies.

  121. I agree that House is great, but disagree that you need to watch in any particular order. Hugh Laurie’s performance stands alone and can be appreciated after a single episode. (Also, I feel I haven’t missed that much by only starting to watch it last season, and catching reruns on USA).

    In contrast, a series that absolutely has to be watched in order is something like (21st cent) BSG.

    I wish Fringe was better, it’s so close but is wildly uneven.

  122. Hugh Laurie’s performance stands alone and can be appreciated after a single episode. (Also, I feel I haven’t missed that much by only starting to watch it last season, and catching reruns on USA).

    I thought so too until recently. Then I went back and watched the first season ’cause I hadn’t seen it in a while, and forgot a lot of the nice touches that really sharpened the characters.

    In contrast, a series that absolutely has to be watched in order is something like (21st cent) BSG.

    QFT. You miss a couple episodes of that and you’re utterly fucked.

    I wish Fringe was better, it’s so close but is wildly uneven.

    I watch it for similar reasons that I watch House. Much like Hugh Laurie, John Noble has a screen-stealing character which is endlessly enjoyable to watch. Otherwise it’s just X-Files for the aughts, but less corny.

  123. To sharpen my point about House, in the current as well as the immediately previous season, the supporting characters seem more wearied of Dr. House’s behavior than shocked, and that doesn’t evoke as much fun banter.

  124. Actually, that’s my problem with Fringe: it’s considerably more corny than x-files. It doesn’t matter that they’ve reversed the sexes of mulder and scully (and have a black guy* vice white guy as a boss but he’s still bald guy). But they took the lone gunmen from a minor recuring charcter to the main one. (note that the spinoff that featured them failed miserably). Also, Laurie’s character is very focused and consistent, while Noble’s, although he’s supposed to be crazy, is rather random. Most good depictions of crazy people still hold to some internal but bizarre logic.

    *also, since what’s his faces performance was so great in the Wire** (and for that matter Oz) with such a well drawn out character, I find the series utterly wasting his talents.

    **another series well worth catching up on (and from the beginning)

  125. Deep Space Nine great, the wormhole beings, the big war at the end, including Q in an episode.

    I can’t watch a Star Trek that is stationary and doesn’t go where no man has gone before. Hawk being the main character notwithstanding.

  126. Fringe was good until I realized that whoever the first person they show from outside the team, and who doesn’t die within two minutes, is part of the Pattern conspiracy.

    Also, in half the episodes the team actually winds up helping the conspiracy more than they hurt it! So it’s debatable whether DHS would have been better off not hiring any of these people in the first place.

    I also must admit that the only reason I’ve kept watching it this long was because of Denethor. He does seem to have the mildly insane father role nailed down.

  127. Epi, I think they mean “go”, not “GO”.

  128. I also should note that Fox is going to be doing the same limited-commercials thing for Joss Whedon’s new show “Dollhouse” when it starts up in February. The show itself looks more like Buffy than Firefly, unfortunately.

  129. I can’t watch a Star Trek that is stationary and doesn’t go where no man has gone before. Hawk being the main character notwithstanding.

    It wasn’t stationary. Once they got the Defiant out of mothballs, the mischievous fuckers were flying all over the damn place, starting wars and offending sensibilities.

    Good times.

  130. Also, with appropriate kudos to Picard and all that, but Sisko was the baddest-ass captain in the franchise.

  131. Jellico > Picard > Sisko > Kirk > Janeway >>> Archer

  132. oh and in case no one said it yet…NERD FIGHT!

  133. Congress DID do it. They did it when they passed the TARP. The people who actually passed the TARP have said that this is what they did. They said that before Bush stated he didn’t want to use TARP money for Detroit. They said that after Bush said he didn’t want to use TARP money for Detroit.

    But yet, this langauage of GIVE DETROIT A WHOLE FUCKING LOT OF MONEY is strangely absent from the bill. I bet if they wanted TARP to say that, it would. Keep imagining that it does, squeeze your eyes real tight and you might actually see it.

    Tell you what sport, Congressional intent and 25 buck will get you a quickie BJ in some parts of town. Move fast before that intent wilts.

    Has it gotten through your thick skull yet?

    You’re so endearing when you turn into an obnoxious assclown. Makes me want to buy you a fruit basket.


  134. The question is about their intent in doing so, specifically, did they intend for the funds to be available for an auto bailout. Last time I checked, there has never in American history been a distinct vote held to affirm the intent of Congress in how to administer a bill they passed.

    I want to thank you, Joe, for backing me up there with that legal defense. That is exactly what I told them when they slammed me on grounds of that Constitutional disgrace, the Boland Admendment.

    You are still the biggest pile of bullshit to slop the Earth, but, hey, at least you’ve got my back!

  135. Will there be any sepration of powers when plutocrats run everything?

    When plutocrats run everything?

  136. But yet, this langauage of GIVE DETROIT A WHOLE FUCKING LOT OF MONEY is strangely absent from the bill.

    Silly, all that letter of the law stuff is so second millennium. I predict Congress will start allowing bills to be submitted as PowerPoint slides. Details TBD.

  137. “Also, with appropriate kudos to Picard and all that, but Sisko was the baddest-ass captain in the franchise.”

    WTF. You fucking asshole.

    You know why Picard was so great? Because he knew real men don’t have to be tall.

    Real men like Robert Reich.

  138. The Shat is shorter than the Stewart. Eddie Olmos is also shorter than the Stewart but taller than the Shat

  139. “The Shat is shorter than the Stewart.”

    Really? Wikipedia doesn’t have height info, but I always remember Picard being abnormally short. Reichish, if you will.

    Anyway, if I’m wrong, I stand corrected. The shortest captain is obviously the best.

  140. Really?

  141. You talk like a munchkin, Kate.

  142. I predict Congress will start allowing bills to be submitted as PowerPoint slides. Details TBD.

    They do that already, don’t they? Dream up a catchy, important-sounding name, put a title page on top of a ream of blank paper, and then make the whole thing up as they go along.

    “There’s no time to think, dammit! Legislate now, ask questions later.”

  143. ” … TARP for short, was enacted to rescue Wall Street, not the automobile industry.”

    This is where Mr. Reich has his facts wrong. No reading of the TARP legislation passed by Congress would support this interpretation.

    The TARP law grants the Executive (through the Treasury) $700 billion to spend however it likes.

    The President is well within his authority and Mr. Reich knows this. Congress gave the President $700 billion to do with however he pleases, and if you don’t believe that, I invite you to read the TARP law that Congress passed. If you are too lazy to read the fkin law, then you deserve to be ridiculed as the idiot that you are.

  144. You know why Picard was so great? Because he knew real men don’t have to be tall.

    Picard is a French man with an English accent.

    Kirk traveled through the Great Barrier, met God, and wasn’t even impressed.

    More here.

    Snowstorms are beautiful, but being trapped inside sucks.

  145. Maybe there’s a little silver lining here. Either:

    A) The auto bailout works. The government doesn’t have to pour in more and more billions and the companies come back as strong, profitable, competitive firms.

    — OR —

    B) The auto bailout fails. Even after the government dumps in good billions after bad, Chrysler and GM go down.

    If A then we have healthy auto companies. If B we have a huge, new high-profile example of why the government should never do this kind of thing. It’s not much, but it’s something.

  146. A few points:

    1) Courts rarely, if ever, accept or follow the after-the-fact-of-passage statements of individual congressional reps/senators or groups of congressional reps/senators regarding what a bill (now law) does or doesn’t mean. And the reported cases on that point of statutory construction are legion. Courts follow the language of the law. Period. In cases of uncertainty or unclear language, some judges (but by no means all) will examine the legislative history to see if that helps regarding interpretation. But what the “leadership” of the House or Senate says during a damned press conference is irrelevant.

    2) In the immediate aftermath of the passage/signing of the TARP, I seem to recall several non-financial institution companies announcing that they were making plans to start their own “banks” (or words to that effect) so that they, too, could qualify for a slice of of that big, juicy, TARP money pie that every lobbyist in D.C. is angling to get a piece of. The #1 Rule is, of course, that: “when the gravy train is rolling, be aboard.”

    3) Whether GMAC is a “financial institution” under the terms of the TARP or not is beyond my level of knowledge. But, it does seem fairly apparent and obvious to everybody that GM is burning through $1 billion every 15 days. Every 15 days. Accordingly, the amount of money that all these guys, regardless of the cut of their jib, are talking about is irrelevant to the end game. At least for GM and Chrysler (who, according to at least one recent article, has like 6-7 of the 10 worst cars on the market today).

    4) Bush is trying to punt this thing downfield a few yards, a few weeks actually, and let Obama deal with it. Bush, love or hate him, didn’t create the mess that is the domestic auto industry. That being said, he will understandably not want it to totally crater on his watch.

  147. How do we know it is “illegal’? And, if so, why not condemn Bush rather than a president elect who is not in office?Isn’t tapping domestic phones illegal and on and on and on..
    you folks seem to direct your ire at the Democrats and skip entirely anything the GOP does or might do or thinks of doing…
    totally agree with the point (4) above, wherein Bush once again screws his own party and then wiggles to seem ok and let the new guy get stuck. Why? So you can pour your ire against him because he does not read your journal.

  148. warren:

    chill the hyperbole, man. old boss: pro torture, lying to start wars, etc. New boss: to be anywhere close to the old boss, obama will have to do some fucking evil shit.

  149. Letalis Maximus–Good write up. TARP might allow for Paulson and Bush to do any damn thing they want (and probably does — SURPRISE!) and GMAC might qualify as a financial insitution, but this cut from the whole cloth bullshit of speechifying and “Ooooh daddy, I want that! I want that! Get that for me!” as a proxy for an actual vote and and an actual bill is, well, bullshit. Wishful thinking at best.

    Obama going along with this is a no brainer; it’s win-win for him with no downside. He didn’t make the decision to do this and he can deny all culpability later when it blows up in his face. But, he can reap the rewards now from his union constituency by saying that he agrees with it. He’s got nothing to lose.

    Kirk traveled through the Great Barrier, met God, and wasn’t even impressed.

    I have a bad feeling that the JJ Abrahms version is going to suck H-U-G-E balls. I’ll give it a fair viewing, but I’m not making any bets.

  150. “Picard is a French man with an English accent.”

    But they both are foriegn so its the same thing.

  151. Kirk wore a girdle you know.

  152. Dude, I just read up on this Abrams Star Trek. WTF? Why make a Kirk prequel? Why not make one with the cast of TNG, Deep Space Nine and Voyager all interacting in various ways. WTF? We’ve already had a zillion original star trek films.

  153. Dude, I just read up on this Abrams Star Trek. WTF? Why make a Kirk prequel?

    Actually, from all that I have read, it’s more like a Spock prequel, with a plot that centers around time-travel shenanigans with old Spock meeting with young Spock and getting their spock on.

  154. “getting their spock on”

    Hilarious!

  155. What’s all this I hear about a Kirk prequel?

  156. Captain Pike:

    I don’t know. First I’ve heard of it.

  157. Read some comments, scanned some and blew off the OT pop culture discussions.

    Y’all needed somebody who actually knew shit about the Big 3 yesterday, didn’t you?

    GMAC Financial Services

    On Nov. 30, 2006, GM sold a 51 percent controlling interest in GMAC to a consortium of investors led by Cerberus Capital Management, L.P., a private investment firm, and included Citigroup Inc., Aozora Bank Ltd. and a subsidiary of The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.

    Not part of GM.

    Chrysler Financial

    In 2007 Chrysler Financial is established as a standalone company as a result of Cerberus Capital Management taking over a majority interest in the Chrysler and the related financial services business.

    Not part of Chrysler.

    Ford Credit

    Ford Motor Credit Company is an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Company. Since 1959, Ford Credit has put more than 50 million people behind the wheels of great Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles.

    Part of Ford.

    Chrysler and GM don’t own the financial services companies that bear their names, thus using TARP’s financial services mission a a means to bailout out completely different companiesis a non starter.

    Only Ford Credit is a wholly owned subsidiary of the automaker that shares the name, and only Ford is not getting cash. They aren’t as desperate and will survice the shakeout.

    I’m seriously considering Ford motor as a speculative investment. I’m probaly too old for speculation, but F looks like a real good stock to me. Last man standing, lean and mean and a 20-50% increase in market share possibly awaits. Car sales go down in a recession and lead the way out of one. The damned things wear out. You can put off a purchase for a year or three, but the underlying demand just increases while people are in financial bunker down mode.

  158. How much snow do you have so far, by the way? I’m at 3-4 inches at this point. And how about you, LMNOP?

    We’re at 0 inches and holding steady here in Hawaii. But I recently started wearing jeans instead of shorts when it dropped into the low 70s at night.

    Where’s that damned global warming when you need it?

  159. Am I being too cynical in thinking that Bush wants to keep Chrysler and GM alive just long enough for Obama and the Democratic Congress to get blamed for them going under, in a bid to put Democratic Rust Belt Congressional seats in play in 2010?

  160. We’re at 0 inches and holding steady here in Hawaii. But I recently started wearing jeans instead of shorts when it dropped into the low 70s at night.

    For prolefeed only.
    6-8″ here in the rust-belt capital. I love snow in the big city. It’s prettifies the squalor.

  161. If at first you fuck it up, try, try again.

    For prolefeed only.

  162. We’ve only got a dusting of fresh snow. The temp (currently -10 or so) is creeping slowly upward, toward a predicted high score of “zero”.

    Throw another heretic on the fire.

  163. Well, now that prolefeed has mentioned not being buried in snow . . . it’s a bit chilly down here in Biloxi too. I think it was about 80 or so yesterday! Burrrrrrrrrrr! (shivers)

  164. How much snow do you have so far, by the way? I’m at 3-4 inches at this point. And how about you, LMNOP?

    We settled out at about 8-9″ where I live, and where I work (which is a good ten miles closer to Narragansett Bay) has about 7″.

  165. Meh, it’s just cloudy and shitty in DC. No snow though, thank god. The traffic is bad enough with the last-weekend-before-Xmas mania.

  166. What’s all this I hear about a Kirk prequel?

    Beep once if it pisses you off.

  167. What’s all this I hear about a Kirk prequel?

    Beep once if it pisses you off.

  168. Well, now that prolefeed has mentioned not being buried in snow . . . it’s a bit chilly down here in Biloxi too. I think it was about 80 or so yesterday! Burrrrrrrrrrr! (shivers)

    I’ll take the snow, you can have Biloxi.
    I lived for 14 month’s in Pascagoula, I know of which I speak.

  169. Beep once if it pisses you off.

    LOL! Besides, everybody who’s anybody knows that Capt. Robert April was dear old Enterprise’s first captain, and Pike was just a whiny space-filler till someone worthy like Kirk could take over.

  170. They do that already, don’t they?

    Yeah, but, you know, the presentation is so boring. They could jazz it up a bit.

  171. J Sub D,

    My feelings would be the same were it not for a child hood case of frostbite on my ears. Now . . . I’m like “Hey! Fuck snow!”.

  172. My feelings would be the same were it not for a child hood case of frostbite on my ears. Now . . . I’m like “Hey! Fuck snow!”.

    Ears? Frostbitten EARS?! Damn, what a whiner. If you still have them it should just be considered a normal part of life in a temperate climate. Everybody has gotten a mild case of frostbite in Michigan. Sans amputation, it’s considered banal to discuss it. 😉

  173. oh, see I thought he said “in his ears”, which would be much more serious.

    But yeah, a little frostbite on your extremities? Come now.

  174. I got frostbite in my esophagus once, drinking Liquid N2 on a dare.

  175. My buggy whip business failed will Congress bail me out? People get the government they deserve. Too bad our nation is so dull they can’t be bothered to read Tactitus to see how these government interventions fared in Roman times. We never learn.

  176. I’m too busy reading Livy to read Tacitus.

    Oh, and does your buggy whip business employ hundreds of thousands of Americans in well paying jobs?

  177. Oh, and does your buggy whip business employ hundreds of thousands of Americans in well paying jobs?

    The Department of Defense does. Do you also advocate maintaining expenditures north of 600 billion a year?

  178. Thomas Jackson, don’t take it personally. MNG is a former counselor for the union of candlestick makers.

  179. No Kolohe, that money should be appropriated for the Peace Corps, the Department of Labor and SAMHSA.

    Duh.

  180. Oh, and does your buggy whip business employ hundreds of thousands of Americans in well paying jobs?

    It used to…until technology advances and changing economies made paying high wages to buggy whip makers (and telegraph operators, Pony Express riders, longshoremen, etc) impractical.

  181. In other words, the fact that their employer is losing billions of dollars a month might indicate that those hundreds of thousands of Americans are being overpaid.

  182. Congress was asking Bush to use money from the TARP for an auto bailout for the past month and a half!

    Who’s the majority over there these days, anyway?

  183. Oh, and does your buggy whip business employ hundreds of thousands of Americans in well paying jobs?

    Yes.

  184. “the fact that their employer is losing billions of dollars a month might indicate that those hundreds of thousands of Americans are being overpaid.”

    It also might indicate that their competition is being heavily subsidized and protected by their governments, hence making their labor costs and their products artificially low in comparison to US automakers costs and products.

    “until technology advances and changing economies made paying high wages to buggy whip makers (and telegraph operators, Pony Express riders,”

    Uh, we are’nt going to stop driving automobiles anytime soon so I don’t really think the buggy whip analogy fits. We are not talking about a technology that is going into the dutsbin of history anytime soon but about one in which some players are more heavily subsidized and protected by their national governments than others combined with poor management modes on the part of some others.

  185. It also might indicate that their competition is being heavily subsidized and protected by their governments, hence making their labor costs and their products artificially low in comparison to US automakers costs and products.

    It’s an excellent point, and one that by extension into general terms causes me to question the long term validity of libertarianism as a *national* ideology. I tend to think that any ideology that requires everyone to act in accordance with it in order to work is an essentially broken ideology.

    To wit, if you are all about free-markets and free-trade, and *everyone else* is engaging in protectionism, you are going to get royally fucked.

    This is why I think that libertarianism, as such, is better as a *personal orientation* than a *policy teleology*.

  186. Well, in theory LMNOP its the Japanese consumers who get screwed by their government’s protection of their car industry and our consumers who benefit. Likewise it’s their taxpayers that get screwed by the subsidization.

    In theory.

  187. In theory.

    As William James said, theory is always good for the lulz.

  188. It’s an excellent point, and one that by extension into general terms causes me to question the long term validity of libertarianism as a *national* ideology

    And this point is as old as the hills and has been made repeatedly by many a union…Boeing’s union comes to mind whenever “Airbus” gets brought up.

    I’m more than happy to allow foreign citizens to subsidize my car purchase. That doesn’t mean we should do it here.

  189. I’m more than happy to allow foreign citizens to subsidize my car purchase. That doesn’t mean we should do it here.

    So, let all manufacturing be done in some other country, and pray that nothing bad happens.

    Wow, good plan.

  190. I’m more than happy to allow foreign citizens to subsidize my car purchase. That doesn’t mean we should do it here.

    So, let all manufacturing be done in some other country, and pray that nothing bad happens.

    Wow, good plan.

    Why stop there? Other nations have the advantages of lower labor costs, less stringent environmental rules, lower tax burdens, less workforce safety regulation, less protection for colllective bargaining etc. All of these factors give evil furriners an unfair advantage over the red, white and blue American workers and the greedy corporations that employ them.

    No trade with any-fucking-body until they match our standards!

    BTW, Michigan has a beef with Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama about lower wages and tax incentives (can you say government subsidy?) giving an unfair advantage over the Great Lakes State workers. They’ll be hearing from our trade representative, Ralph Nader.

  191. J sub D –

    Thank you for applying the principle I elucidated to liberalism. It sucks too.

  192. MNG might like to take note that Toyota Motor Corporation is listed on the NYSE. They pay dividends on their profits so perhaps he’d like to buy some of the company and let the taxpayers in Japan subsidize him for a while.

    Or is that not as much fun as bitching about beinng taken advanbtage of?

  193. J sub D
    I probably have stock in Toyota and lots of other things (I don’t keep up with such nonsense to be honest, my wife and financial advisor and my retirement fund does all that).

    But I also care about my nation’s well being. I know, I know, there really is no such thing as national well being, there are just individuals in this place called “the US” who own their own plot of lands, should not care about some mythical abstract entities like “national interests,” “national resources” blah blah blah and other libertarian dogma….But I’m funny like that.

    I’m glad you like the “race to the bottom” that occurs when areas compete with labor, environmental and safety regulations (how low can you go?), because my God how great it is for us consumers.

    Soon all the products around us will be so low! It’ll fit well with our janitorial and other booming service job salaries!

  194. We should all run out and by stock in companies that benefit from heavy protection and subsidies from their national government.

    That’ll teach ’em!

  195. Politically has anyone pointed out the following: the only state that McCain really thought he could turn from blue to red was Michigan. With the somehow finding the balls to stand up to the, in comparison to TARP, paltry bailout for a blue collar industry, have they written off Michigan for a while?

    Remember when Antionnette said “let them eat cake?” The Dems may think of the GOP thusly: “let them have the South.” Because a “national” party governed by the out of step extremists who control the South politically is one that will probably only have the South (and Utah/Idaho of course!).

  196. Politically has anyone pointed out the following…

    The age old question of whether it is better to have principles and never have the power to act on them, or no principles and the power to do whatever one wants.

    Of course, lately the GOP has managed to have neither principles nor power. Good job, guys!

  197. We should all run out and by stock in companies that benefit from heavy protection and subsidies from their national government.

    Uh yeah. Toyota (got a link that details their subsidies that is not from the UAW?), if subsidezd to build cars domestically or in the United States, would likely find subsidies more difficult to wheedle if foreign owned.

    Face it, MNG. The Bid 3 and UAW got fat, dumb and happy* from WWII till the 70s. Then they ignored the reality of competition in a free automobile market. Now they’re getting their asses kicked by cars built in southern states by Americans who don’t want to join the UAW.

    * Blindingly ignorant should go in there as well, but I opted for tradition.

  198. [/i] after the first sentence (a quote from MNG).

    Preview is your friend. Use it, love it, swear by it.

  199. So, let all manufacturing be done in some other country, and pray that nothing bad happens.

    US manufacturing output, in real terms, is higher than it has ever been.

    Our manufacturing sector hasn’t disappeared, despite the quasi-mercentalist policies of other nations. It actually has gone from strength to strength.

    Manufacturing employment has stagnated or declined for many decades, particularly in heavily-unionized industries, but the total amount of goods manufactured in the US has continued to grow.

  200. Politically has anyone pointed out the following: the only state that McCain really thought he could turn from blue to red was Michigan. With the somehow finding the balls to stand up to the, in comparison to TARP, paltry bailout for a blue collar industry, have they written off Michigan for a while?

    During the primary, McCain said to Michigan voters, something to the effect “your jobs are not coming back. We need to figure out how to get new jobs.” (the first sentence is close to a direct quote) Romney, otoh, pandered on this. Romney, of course, wound up winning Michigan (but likely because of home field advantage)

    Also, McCain pulled out of Michigan rather early, just a week or so after the convention. (Publicly disagreeing with this decision was one of the early ‘Palin going of the reservation’ moments)

  201. Manufacturing employment has stagnated or declined for many decades, particularly in heavily-unionized industries, but the total amount of goods manufactured in the US has continued to grow.

    Similar to farm employment dropping by a shitload* percentage while agricultural yields increased by oodles.* Making more while using less labor/people is perceived by many to be a bad thing. Many are foolish.

    * My apologies for using technical terms.

  202. Here’s a factoid obtained from here:http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cesbtab1.htm

    In Jan 1950, there was a little over 13 million people employed in manufacturing in the US. In Jan 2009, there is projected to be a little over 13 million people employed in manufacturing in the US.

    During this time, manufacturing employment peaked in 1979 at 19.5 million.

  203. I will say, one thing that gives me pause is that manufacturing employed a steady figure of around 17 million from the mid 80’s to 2000. It has fallen off considerably since then.

  204. one last thing for the triple post score.

    Production line workers were 11.2 million in Jan 50, peaked at 14.5 million in ’79, was 12-13 million for the 80’s and 90’s, and has dropped to just about 9.3 million in this decade

  205. LMNOP hits it out of the park with this one:

    Of course, lately the GOP has managed to have neither principles nor power. Good job, guys!

    QFT. and we’re the ones stuck with the bill.

  206. In Jan 1950, there was a little over 13 million people employed in manufacturing in the US. In Jan 2009, there is projected to be a little over 13 million people employed in manufacturing in the US.

    Jan 1950, US Population: 152,271,417

    Jan 2008, US Population: 303,146,284

    So…as in terms of population, manufacturing jobs have fallen 48%.

  207. As William James said, theory is always good for the lulz.

    Elemenope, I’ll take Adam Smith’s “theory” over your unjustified assertion that a free trade nation is at a disadvantage vs. protectionist ones.

  208. LMNOP @11:53am:

    So, let all manufacturing be done in some other country, and pray that nothing bad happens.

    @6:46pm:

    So…as in terms of population, manufacturing jobs have fallen 48%.

    One of these things
    is not like the other,

    One of these things
    just doesn’t belong…

  209. I’ll take Adam Smith’s “theory” over your unjustified assertion that a free trade nation is at a disadvantage vs. protectionist ones.

    If by “Adam Smith” you actually meant “David Ricardo”, that sentence would make sense.

    Personally, I think that the doctrine of competitive advantage is held hostage *in reality* to an unfavorable game-theoretical situation, akin to the Prisoner’s Dilemma. Sure, everyone will be wealthier if everyone trades, but if only some (or, worst case, one) nation chooses free trade, it gets screwed over the short term making the free trade policy *politically un-viable* and therefore practically unsustainable, regardless of what theory says.

    Hence, theory, untested by reality, is clearly for the lulz. Even theories as well-established as Ricardo’s.

  210. So, let all manufacturing be done in some other country, and pray that nothing bad happens.

    The above is what is known in crude and unrefined circles as sarcasm.

    Use it, know it, love it.

  211. Manufacturing productivity goes up and employment goes down, I think that’s a bad thing for this nation I’m afraid. I’d rather have 10 of my neighbors with high paying manufacturing jobs producing 10 widgets an hour each than have only 6 but that can produce 15 widgets each an hour.

    According to this logic if the US employment were at one person (the Flash let’s say, the Barry Allen version too) but that superhuman employee produced slightly more than we currently do then that latter situation is better.

    “Unemployment is at an all time high, but productivity is through the roof” is not good news for a lot of folks…

  212. Economic theory has also come a long way since either Ricardo and Smith. Most economists would find much of what they say needs quite a bit of qualifying now.

  213. J sub D
    I think the key will be, will those who lose manufacturing employment opportunities find equally or more renumerative work as the dwindling farmers did, or will they find work in “food prep.”

  214. It is rather difficult to compare farm labor statistics. The Dept of Ag does not aggregate them as well as the Dept of Labor. There seems to have been a methodology change sometime in the last thirty – forty years where they stopped counting 13 year olds doing their chores as farm labors. Getting statistics depends on surveys from the labor force, which has been migratory for a century (if not more), not to mention are not keen on interacting with govt officials.

    Nonetheless from here http://usda.mannlib.cornell.edu/MannUsda/viewDocumentInfo.do?documentID=1063, I believe you can make apples to apples comparisons by just looking at the ‘hired labor statistics.’. Doing so shows that there were around 2.4 million in summer of 64 (the furthest the numbers go back to) (US pop: 192 million) compared to 1.2 million in summer of 08. (us pop 303 million).

    So adjusting for population, farm jobs have fallen almost 70%.

  215. According to this logic if the US employment were at one person (the Flash let’s say, the Barry Allen version too) but that superhuman employee produced slightly more than we currently do then that latter situation is better.

    “I don’t normally do this, but I’ve got an idea for a commercial for you. See, it starts with a carpenter building a beautiful chair. And then, one of your robots comes along and makes a better chair twice as fast, and then we superimpose on the screen: USR: Shittin’ on the Little Guy. You see, that would be the fade-out…”

  216. But LMNOP, imagine how set the guy who invented the robots would be!

    Provided they didn’t kill him.

  217. MNG @ 7:35

    here is some evidence to support that assertion – the red line on the graph on the right. However, they say that their data is somewhat flawed, and additionally, they are no longer able to collect it.

  218. But LMNOP, imagine how set the guy who invented the robots would be!

    Provided they didn’t kill him.

    The Zeroth Law is a real bitch.

  219. According to this logic if the US employment were at one person (the Flash let’s say, the Barry Allen version too) but that superhuman employee produced slightly more than we currently do then that latter situation is better.

    Rather than (the movie version of) I Robot, what you have created is the post-scarcity economy of ST:TNG. I am somewhat (but not entirely) less optimistic that Roddenberry that such a transition could be made as seamlessly was portrayed. (which is what the Proyas/Smith version has going for it)

  220. The only thing that limits the industrialized world from a post scarcity economy right now is energy. But even fusion, solar satellites or matter/anti matter moderated by dilithium crystals would still be subject to hydraulic despotism.

  221. But even fusion, solar satellites or matter/anti matter moderated by dilithium crystals would still be subject to hydraulic despotism.

    Buy a comet, that’s what my uncle always said. Your bottom line will thank you in a few centuries.

  222. According to this logic if the US employment were at one person (the Flash let’s say, the Barry Allen version too) but that superhuman employee produced slightly more than we currently do then that latter situation is better.

    This, fellow readers, is the lefty version of the anti-minimum wage argument that if minimum wage were raised to a billion dollars an hour no one would have a job. Extreme examples are of limited utility.

    Even in that example, though, you have to keep in mind that the superemployee still needs to eat, travel, have a place to sleep, have plumbing, etc. The lost manufacturing jobs will be replaced with service jobs because the same amount of money is coming into the economy since output remains stable.

  223. Hence, theory, untested by reality, is clearly for the lulz. Even theories as well-established as Ricardo’s.

    So you’re claiming that your assertion is justified by some nebulous “reality”? Care to cite some studies that show, while controlling for other factors, that protectionist economies fare better than free trade economies when all else is equal?

  224. “Care to cite some studies that show, while controlling for other factors, that protectionist economies fare better than free trade economies when all else is equal?”

    Can I just deny the hundreds of economic studies extolling the benefits of free trade like most libertarians deny the hundreds of climatological studies that support global warming?

  225. cunnivore –

    You yourself pointed out the absurdities of extremity. What makes you think that because I don’t think trade works *exactly* like Ricardo envisioned that I am a dyed-in-the-wool protectionist? (I’m pretty far from it.) I do have a problem with people dismissing problems simply because they are not predicted or do not conform with theory.

  226. I do have a problem with people dismissing problems simply because they are not predicted or do not conform with theory.

    But if you make your theories completely independent of experimental evidence, you never have to worry about this conflict.

  227. Manufacturing productivity goes up and employment goes down, I think that’s a bad thing for this nation I’m afraid. I’d rather have 10 of my neighbors with high paying manufacturing jobs producing 10 widgets an hour each than have only 6 but that can produce 15 widgets each an hour.

    According to this logic if the US employment were at one person (the Flash let’s say, the Barry Allen version too) but that superhuman employee produced slightly more than we currently do then that latter situation is better.

    Economies will produce jobs at levels commensurate with their wealth and with the elasticity of their labor markets.

    If we had an economy where one person could produce the entire current manufacturing output of the US, then YES – that situation would in fact be better than what we have now. Such an economy would support a service sector much larger than the one we have now. Entire categories of additional services would be invented to soak up that extra wealth. And manufactured goods would be almost ludicrously cheaper than they are now.

  228. And manufactured goods would be almost ludicrously cheaper than they are now.

    But would they all come in plaid?

  229. lmnop, is that a Spaceballs reference?

  230. lmnop, is that a Spaceballs reference?

    You win FIVE FAKE DOLLARS!

  231. “Such an economy would support a service sector much larger than the one we have now. Entire categories of additional services would be invented to soak up that extra wealth. And manufactured goods would be almost ludicrously cheaper than they are now.”

    Getting away from the extreme of one person, if well paying manufacturing jobs are lost because of productivity gains, how do you know the things you describe would result (that we would see an increase in the service sector, commodification of new services, etc)? How do you know the result would not be something like underconsumption or something else?

    I’m cringing at the idea that the answer will be classical economic assumptions 101, that is that capital will just find its way to the most productive venues because that is just how supply and demand work blah, blah, blah…

  232. …leading to the clearly ludicrous theory that war with the Borg and the Dominion were economically necessary, to prevent all that *capital* from going to waste…

  233. if well paying manufacturing jobs are lost because of productivity gains, how do you know the things you describe would result (that we would see an increase in the service sector, commodification of new services, etc)?

    It works if one assume the model is similar to agriculture, where the jobs (I wouldn’t call them well paying) that have been lost due to productivity increases of the industrial and then the green revolutions have lead to a rising standard of living of all involved. Now, this transition in a lot of places has not been smooth, both in the past (Corn law England) and in the present (the urbanization of the rural poor in parts of Latin America, Africa, East and South Asia). But in the long run it has worked out (and I predict it to be the same for the developing world). (as another parenthetical aside, my personal theory of why the Great Depression seemed so much worse than any time in American history – even though by many measures it wasn’t – is that it was the first downturn where the majority of the American people were not directly engaged in agriculture, and so could not weather the economic storm by simply going back to subsistence agriculture).

    One more thing on those ‘well paying manufacturing jobs’. Manufacturing jobs, even in the 19th century, have always been marginally better remunerated than agricultural work. But the line worker did not have a ‘middle class’ lifestyle. The ‘well paying aspect’ of the 50’s- 70’s could very well be an historical accident. At the end of WW2 America contained a majority of the total world industrial capacity. This quasi monopoly, combined with a pent up consumer demand that had been deferred for a generation, (and on top of a work ethic forged by 12 million men under arms who would never have a worse day at work than they had in the early 40’s) made it possible for semi skilled labor to reap huge rewards. This world, needless to say is gone.

  234. Brian Greene,

    I AGREE!

  235. I DISAGREE!!

    [zoooom]

  236. What makes you think that because I don’t think trade works *exactly* like Ricardo envisioned that I am a dyed-in-the-wool protectionist?

    You weren’t talking about minor details of the workings of trade; you were asserting that free traders are at a disadvantage if the rest of the world is protectionist, which seems like a major challenge to economic theory going all the way back to Smith.

    Never said you were a protectionist. Change the subject much?

  237. Brian / Siggy,

    You two make me sick. Or I should say, the stimulus of your presence elicits a conditioned response of vomiting.

  238. Can I just deny the hundreds of economic studies extolling the benefits of free trade like most libertarians deny the hundreds of climatological studies that support global warming?

    Speaking of changing the subject!

  239. MNG,

    I can understand being skeptical of whether economic theories will guarantee that the loss of manufacturing jobs won’t hurt the economy.

    Keep in mind, though, that the proposed alternative requires racking up ever more government debt, slanting the playing field in the auto industry, and perhaps worst of all, sending yet another message to big companies that the government will bail them out if they screw up. That course of action is not without its own risks.

  240. Getting away from the extreme of one person, if well paying manufacturing jobs are lost because of productivity gains, how do you know the things you describe would result (that we would see an increase in the service sector, commodification of new services, etc)? How do you know the result would not be something like underconsumption or something else?

    No society has ever experienced consistent productivity gains and a decrease in overall employment.

    And you might not like Econ 101, but the reason stuff ends up in the introductory class is because it’s a) basic and b) pretty much universally acknowledged in the field.

    Basically to have the outcome I am predicting not occur, you’d have to have the class that receives the wealth associated with that immense and unprecedented productivity gain not devote any of it to consumption of goods and services, and not save or invest any of it.

    Because if they do devote it to consumption of goods and services, they will demand new services from the market until their disposable income is spent, as consuming classes have always done. And if they do save or invest it instead of spending it all on consumption, their savings and investments will reduce the cost of capital, allowing third parties to use it to soak up capital goods and business services.

  241. If they’re going to spend money on the Big Three’s financial institutions, then that’s that. It’s legal, and Reich’s argument is wrong.

    GMAC was spun off as a standalone some years ago. It hass its own NYSE listing.

    Chrysler’s credit arm was sold to a private investor even earlier.

    Ford Motor Credit is in better shape than its parent.

    Now I can’t speak as to whether using TARP funds for a Big 2.5 bailot is alloweded under the legislation, but I can’t see that some notion that they’re “financial institutions” will cut it if that is a requirement.

  242. There’s something to the left of Reich?

  243. I half plagiarized these – tried to think up some on my own, but I came up short:

    As an economist, Robert Reich is quite predictable – always taking a short position.

    Before Robert Reich started radio commentary, he worked as a pro baseball player: short stop.

    Q: How does Robert Reich travel? A: By mini-van.

    Yesterday, Michael Jordan and Robert Reich robbed a gas station.
    The police are searching high and low.

    Robert Reich is so short he plays handball on a curb

    Q: What to you call Robert Reich waving? A: A microwave.

    Q: How do we know Robert Reich is gay? A: He came out of the cabinet.

    Q: Why do you get if you let Robert Reich wire your house? A: Short circuit.

    Q: Is Robert Reich offended by short jokes A: No. They go over his head.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.