The Class war summed up in quotes
By Daniel Becker
I just want to lay out the debate going on in our economy right now. There are 4 debaters. President Obama/Geithner et al, President Obama 2008, the rich (or capitalist, those who make their money from money) and the rest of us.
From President Obama’s 60 Minute interview:
PRESIDENT OBAMA:…And it turns out that actually the people who are most likely to use that money and spend that money are actually people of more modest means, and if what we’re concerned about is how we can grow the economy, there are more efficient ways to recirculate dollars out there and get people to spend.
PRESIDENT OBAMA:…But probably the biggest uncertainty right now for a lotta companies is there gonna be enough demand out there for the products, and we’ve gotta make sure that we’re workin’ with them to try to improve that.
KROFT: You’ve got a situation right now that banks have not significantly loosened up credit in spite of all the money that they’ve received, in spite of the fact that they’re quite profitable right now. And you’ve got manufacturing companies that haven’t replaced many of the jobs or hired back the people that they’ve cut. How do you get the banks to loan money, and how do you get businesses to hire people back?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, it starts with businesses wanting to hire people back because they see customers out there. And so everything that we can do to expand consumer confidence, everything that we can do to get businesses to invest in plants and equipment through the tax code, through accelerated depreciation, through keeping taxes on middle class families where they are, as opposed to having them spike up — all that can make a difference. The more companies are doing well, the more likely they are to go to banks and say, “We need to borrow.”
The two Obama’s are struggling to have it both ways and thus the lack of action on issues such as easing unionization while going to South Korea for a trade deal ala NAFTA.
However, the other 2 parties in this debate have been very clear for years now. I present “Other People’s Money” 1991
The Capitalist represented by Lawrence Garfield:
“Ah, but we can’t,” goes the prayer. “We can’t because we have responsibility, a responsibility to our employees, to our community. What will happen to them?” I got two words for that: Who cares? Care about them? Why? They didn’t care about you. They sucked you dry. You have no responsibility to them. For the last ten years this company bled your money. Did this community ever say, “We know times are tough. We’ll lower taxes, reduce water and sewer.” Check it out: You’re paying twice what you did ten years ago. And our devoted employees, who have taken no increases for the past three years, are still making twice what they made ten years ago; and our stock – one-sixth what it was ten years ago. Who cares? I’ll tell you. Me. I’m not your best friend. I’m your only friend. I don’t make anything? I’m making you money. And lest we forget, that’s the only reason any of you became stockholders in the first place. You want to make money! You don’t care if they manufacture wire and cable, fried chicken, or grow tangerines! You want to make money! I’m the only friend you’ve got. I’m making you money. Take the money. Invest it somewhere else. Maybe, maybe you’ll get lucky and it’ll be used productively. And if it is, you’ll create new jobs and provide a service for the economy and, God forbid, even make a few bucks for yourselves. And if anybody asks, tell ’em ya gave at the plant. And by the way, it pleases me that I am called “Larry the Liquidator.” You know why, fellow stockholders? Because at my funeral, you’ll leave with a smile on your face and a few bucks in your pocket. Now that’s a funeral worth having!
The rest of us represented by Andrew Jorgenson:
“…The entrepreneur of post-industrial America, playing God with other people’s money. The robber barons of old at least left something tangible in their wake- a coal mine, a railroad, banks. This man leaves nothing. He creates nothing. He builds nothing. He runs nothing. And in his wake lies nothing but a blizzard of paper to cover the pain. Oh, if he said, “I know how to run your business better than you,” that would be something worth talking about. But he’s not saying that. He’s saying, “I’m gonna kill you because at this particular moment in time, you’re worth more dead than alive.” Well, maybe that’s true, but it is also true that one day this industry will turn. One day when the yen is weaker, the dollar is stronger, or when we finally begin to rebuild our roads, our bridges, the infrastructure of our country, demand will skyrocket….God save us if we vote to take his paltry few dollars and run. God save this country if that is truly the wave of the future. We will then have become a nation that makes nothing but hamburgers, creates nothing but lawyers, and sells nothing but tax shelters. And if we are at that point in this country, where we kill something because at the moment it’s worth more dead than alive, well, take a look around. Look at your neighbor. Look at your neighbor. You won’t kill him, will you? No. It’s called murder, and it’s illegal. Well, this, too, is murder, on a mass scale. Only on Wall Street, they call it maximizing shareholder value, and they call it legal. And they substitute dollar bills where a conscience should be. Damn it! A business is worth more than the price of its stock. It’s the place where we earn our living, where we meet our friends, dream our dreams. It is, in every sense, the very fabric that binds our society together. So let us now, at this meeting, say to every Garfield in the land, here, we build things, we don’t destroy them. Here, we care about more than the price of our stock. Here, we care about people. Thank you.”
DolB, I prefer this list of arguments: http://www.optimist123.com/optimist/2010/11/for-the-left-for-the-tea-party-and-for-everyone-four-questions.html
The two of Steve’s four that make the most sense for me are: 1. For the left, re: Tax cuts for the rich.
For nine years, all I’ve been hearing from you is that the Bush tax cuts benefitted only the rich. “Tax cuts for the rich” is the phrase that sums up the “failed policies of the past” mantra, the one that succeeded in rallying middle-class anger, largely helping to get Obama elected two years ago. Fine. Now, here’s my question:
If the Bush tax cuts benefitted only the rich, as you’ve been saying for nine years, why are you now saying that letting all the tax cuts expire will hurt the middle class? Which is it: Did the Bush tax cuts help the middle class, or didn’t they?
3. For everyone: “Cut” versus “Grow.”
The best path to prosperity has always been through private sector job creation that increases the number of taxpayers, as well as the wages and salaries of those taxpayers. Everybody wins. So:
Why do we hear so much about where and how to “cut” – but so little about where and how to “grow”?
My, CoRev’s, thoughts below:
Dems fought a political war with “class warfare” and “business bad” arguments to a 2008 win. The problem is obvious. You can’t govern with those arguments driving your policies. But, for four years Dems have tried, and this is where we stand economically, and they paid politically.
From Dickens’ “Hard Times” about the mill town Coketown (my favorite paragraph of the book):
“The wonder was, it was there at all. It had been ruined so often,
that it was amazing how it had borne so many shocks. Surely there
never was such fragile china-ware as that of which the millers of
Coketown were made. Handle them never so lightly, and they fell to
pieces with such ease that you might suspect them of having been
flawed before. They were ruined, when they were required to send
labouring children to school; they were ruined when inspectors were
appointed to look into their works; they were ruined, when such
inspectors considered it doubtful whether they were quite justified
in chopping people up with their machinery; they were utterly
undone, when it was hinted that perhaps they need not always make
quite so much smoke. Besides Mr. Bounderby’s gold spoon which was
generally received in Coketown, another prevalent fiction was very
popular there. It took the form of a threat. Whenever a
Coketowner felt he was ill-used – that is to say, whenever he was
not left entirely alone, and it was proposed to hold him
accountable for the consequences of any of his acts – he was sure
to come out with the awful menace, that he would ‘sooner pitch his
property into the Atlantic.’ This had terrified the Home Secretary
within an inch of his life, on several occasions.”
Business people whine about how government is mean to them no matter what
the government does. If the congress mandated hookers and whiskey for
all CEOs, the CEOs would complain that there was no Cognac.
It’s pretty easy to run a government on the principles of “Class Warfare” and
“Business Bad” if those two phrases mean “corporate executives have to pay
for their own hookers and whiskey, and the government is going to decide
how much pollution is allowed, and the government is going to determine
the definition of fraud, and punish fraudulent business people.” That’s
class warfare, and that’s what we need.
I don’t think we’ve hit bottom yet. I think the middle class is too
prosperous to really understand what’s going on. I think we won’t see
any movement on liberal government in the US until there are long
soup lines, and former ASIC designers selling apples in the street.
“gonna… gotta… lotta…” Gosh darn. What a INEPT phony douchebag. Doesn’t the guy realize that the big words he uses in between the faux populist contractions give away the game? If he wants to sound like a pizza vendor or cab driver, he’s gotta follow through and sound 100% folksy, not ivy-league with a sprinkling of folksy.
i agree with your point number one. the middle class trying to hang onto it’s tax cut while taxing the rich offends my sense of honesty.
as to the rest, though, you are just fighting politics with politics. fun for you, but no real help to the country.
and thanks for the dickens. hard to believe we haven’t understood this after 150 years.
I like Warren Buffet’s formulation too: “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” -NYT 2006
DOLB, Garfield whole speech is much better and you have the two speeches reversed. Jorgensen went first. The Garfield (DeVito) stood up and gave his speech, the part missing:
“Amen. And amen. And amen. You have to forgive me. I’m not familiar with the local custom. Where I come from, you always say “Amen” after you hear a prayer. Because that’s what you just heard – a prayer. Where I come from, that particular prayer is called “The Prayer for the Dead.” You just heard The Prayer for the Dead, my fellow stockholders, and you didn’t say, “Amen.” This company is dead. I didn’t kill it. Don’t blame me. It was dead when I got here. It’s too late for prayers. For even if the prayers were answered, and a miracle occurred, and the yen did this, and the dollar did that, and the infrastructure did the other thing, we would still be dead. You know why? Fiber optics. New technologies. Obsolescence. We’re dead alright. We’re just not broke. And you know the surest way to go broke? Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. Down the tubes. Slow but sure. You know, at one time there must’ve been dozens of companies making buggy whips. And I’ll bet the last company around was the one that made the best goddamn buggy whip you ever saw. Now how would you have liked to have been a stockholder in that company? You invested in a business and this business is dead. Let’s have the intelligence, let’s have the decency to sign the death certificate, collect the insurance, and invest in something with a future. “Ah, but we can’t,” goes the prayer…”
The first part of his speech is really set the theme – the company is dead. Its obsolete. But from your comment you make it sound like the company should keep making Buggy Whips until it literally runs out of money and the electricity shuts off. DeVito (Garfield) is the good guy in this game – Gregory Peck (Jorgensen) is living in the past and not facing reality of the global marketplace and changing technology.
I grew up in N Ohio. I watched the car companies and rubber plants all slowly die becuase neither management or the unions would face reality Devito’s charachter described above. Reality then caught up with them and hit them in the head. Reality is a bitch that way.
Islam will change
“If the Bush tax cuts benefitted only the rich, as you’ve been saying for nine years, why are you now saying that letting all the tax cuts expire will hurt the middle class?”
No, it was’t only the rich that got a tax reduction through the Bush tax legislation. It was the rich that got the lioon’s share of the reduction. What is being requested now is that the rich who have benefited to the much greater extent be asked to start giving something back. The middle class that has always been the back bone of the American economy be allowed to continue to benefit by the smaller margin that the Bush tax cuts had provided. The Republican’s demanded more for the very wealthy at the tax cut inception as retribution for allowing even the small benefit that the middle class received. It is time for the rich to give back some of the largesse that they enjoy for the sake of the nation. Given the disproportionate amount of the wealth and income that goes to the rich in America, why is that concept of shared expenses not understood? Proportionate with thier great wealth, the rich have gotten a pretty free ride for a long while.
As I’ve said before: Tax them all, and let God sort it out.
Yes, I did leave out the parts that were about the specific company going dead.
There are 2 parts to the argument between both characters. One is saving that particular business. Not the primary part of the debate that has been going on since Reagan and accelerated with Clinton fast track trade process.
The other, specific to the overall debate is producing stuff vs just making money from money. Only a few make money from money. “…God save us if we vote to take his paltry few dollars and run. God save this country if that is truly the wave of the future. We will then have become a nation that makes nothing but hamburgers, creates nothing but lawyers, and sells nothing but tax shelters.” Prophetic no?
We either continue focusing on the efficiency of money and keep pretenting things are going to improve or we get back to: “…A business is worth more than the price of its stock. It’s the place where we earn our living, where we meet our friends, dream our dreams. It is, in every sense, the very fabric that binds our society together. So let us now, at this meeting, say to every Garfield in the land, here, we build things, we don’t destroy them. Here, we care about more than the price of our stock. Here, we care about people. Thank you.”
But you keep missing the point – the company is worthless. A business is worth the price of its stock, period. Its value is measured in pennies on the dollar and there is no hope of turning it around. The product it sold is obsolete.
You don’t keep obsolete business open – you close them and move the capital elsewhere. People get retrained or retire or find another job. I grew up watching the auto industry self-destruct. This was personal. I had friends fathers get laid off. Their college plans change. Some put off college to help put food on teh table. It was tragic – but the auto industry could not survive in the form it was in in the 70s. The shake-up is tramatic and is still on-going. Detroit, Akron, Buffalo, Pittsburgh were the industrial capitals of the US in the 40-50-60s. That’s were your up and coming ‘cool kids’ went to make their millions. Dayton, Ohio was once the center of the Aviation industry and very prosperous.
Now we call this area the rust-belt. Hi-unemployment, anti-business climate, bloated and corrupt state governments, and the host of other maladies. All becuase the Jorgensens won the argument – they kept the plants open until the lights went out and the entire edifice crumbled. You are arguing for the same disasterous path.
And I’ll repeat – a company is worth the price of its stock and not a penny more.
Islam will change
Like I stated. There were 2 issues in both those dialogs. One was the dieing business, the other was the overall approach to making money. I chose to use the second point.
By the way, the “dead business” became alive in the end do to the need for wire mesh for air bags. Remember? Thus, the capitalist was shown to be very short sighted. That is the point.
In the end the prayer worked. Jorgenson got lucky. What happened in reality throughout the rust-belt was what Garfield pointed out. Adapt or die. GM basically died last year and if it wasn’t for the government throwing tons of money at it, it would still be dead.
I understand you thought about making money. But in that movie Garfield was the hero, he was coming in a saving something from the corpse. And until the US can figure out how to compete against a Chinese factory, paying its workers 5 cents on the $ of US wage and pouring pollution into the envirnment for free, we are going to continue to find more dead factories….
Islam will change
Yes Indeed . . .
“The other, specific to the overall debate is producing stuff vs just making money from money. Only a few make money from money. “…God save us if we vote to take his paltry few dollars and run.”
Change the paradigm. You got it correctly.
Where, BP’s argument falls apart is these companies were only indebted and striped of assetts; then moved at the taxpayes expense. Not any different than the S & L’s or the Financial Market’s.