Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

David Simon via Bill Moyers

I can’t get past just how juvenile the thought is that if you just let the markets be the markets, they’ll solve everything.  And if profit is your only metric, man, what are you building?  David Simon

This is the first part of an interview with David Simon.   He is a “journalist and creator of the TV series The Wire and Treme…”   Mr. Simon talks about America as a “Horror Show”.   (video below the fold)

What caught my attention is that this is the first time I have heard someone in the public sphere use the word “selfish” instead of the more benign word “greed”.

You know when we started out space program, which was, you know, an unqualified success in the end, the rockets kept blowing up on the launching pad. Somehow we figured out a way to keep launching rockets and do it right. And that’s a very different America from the tonality of this one, which is selfish, which is I have my health care still and I don’t want to pay for anybody else to get back in the boat.

Some excerpts:

The Supreme Court has walked away from any sort of responsibility to maintain democracy at that level. That’s the aspect of government that’s broken.

And it doesn’t matter whether it’s Obama or Clinton or Bush or anybody at this point. If this is the way we’re going to do business, we’re not going to do business. You know, they’ve paid for it to be inert. And it is inert. And ultimately that aspect of capitalism hasn’t been dealt with in any way.

We’ve changed and we’ve become contemptuous of the idea that we are all in this together. This is about sharing and about, you know, when you say sharing there’s a percentage of the population (and it’s the moneyed percent of our population), that hears socialism or communism or any of the other -isms they want to put on it. But ultimately we are all part of the same society. And it’s either going to be a mediocre society that, you know, abuses people or it’s not.

If how much money you have is the defining characteristic of citizenship or of value or of relevance, of human relevance, and if that’s all that we’re going to measure (and apparently, since 1980 this all we’re going to measure), you’re going to get a society to live in that is structured on that metric. And it’s going to be a brutal one.

Kash Returns, Discovers one of Mark Thoma’s Cohorts is an Idiot

CBS Marketwatch Devalues their Brand. Kash views the carnage:

Despite all the rhetoric and posturing we see in the media and in Washington D.C., it is safe to say categorically that the U.S. Treasury will not default on its debt after August 2nd, even if the debt ceiling is not raised. Not only will the Treasury be able to pay interest on U.S. debt obligations, but there is money for other essential programs as well. However, there will be some serious cutting that has to happen because spending clearly exceeds revenues.

Yes, quite. In fact, some specific numbers are provided in this column: federal spending would instantly have to be reduced by about $100bn per month. By the end of 2011 federal spending would be about $500 bn lower for the year than it would have been otherwise.

I’ve made this point before, but for numbers that large, anyone who wants to pretend to have some understanding about the economy has to think about macroeconomic effects. In particular, spending cuts of that size would reduce the US’s 2011 GDP by multiple percentage points. The Q3 and Q4 GDP growth rates wold probably be on the order of between -5% and -10%. Recall that during the recession of 2008-09, GDP only fell by about 4% in total. The unemployment rate would be likely to rise by several percentage points from its current level of 9.2%, to perhaps 15% or more of the US population. Recall that at its worst, the unemployment rate during the Great Recession only reached 10%.

So when you read someone blithely writing that the federal government will not default in the absence of a debt ceiling deal, and instead will merely have to trim excess spending, remember that what they’re really advocating is a new and deliberately caused Great Depression. And not just in economists like me.

Can it really be that bad? Well, yes. This is what Marketwatch allows to be given their imprimatur, as one Kurt Brouwer presents “in a Q&A format…what I believe you need to know at a basic level”:

If we do not raise the debt ceiling by August 2nd, we will not default on Treasury obligations. Nor, will we have trouble making Social Security payments. However, there would be a big drop — roughly 44% — in government spending because that percentage represents the difference between government revenues which would be about $200 billion for the full month of August and [sic] $172 billion for August if we start counting after the first week when the deadline hits. Spending is slated to be over $300 billion that month.

Kash is right; that’s about $100B a month. So how does Brouwer solve that $100B+ shortfall?

The [Bipartisan Policy Center] study projects there will be $172 billion in federal revenues in August and $307 billion in authorized expenditures. That means there’s enough money to pay for, say, interest on the debt ($29 billion), Social Security ($49.2 billion), Medicare and Medicaid ($50 billion), active duty troop pay ($2.9 billion), veterans affairs programs ($2.9 billion).

That leaves you with about $39 billion to fund (or not fund) the following:

  • Defense vendors ($31.7 billion)
  • IRS refunds ($3.9 billion)
  • Food stamps and welfare ($9.3 billion)
  • Unemployment insurance benefits ($12.8 billion)
  • Department of Education ($20.2 billion)
  • Housing and Urban Development ($6.7 billion)
  • Other spending, such as Departments of Justice, Labor, Commerce, EPA, HHS ($73.6 billion) [formatted for style]
  • Oh, he doesn’t.

    Now, does Brouwer prioritize payments by “bang for the buck” (multiplier effect)? No. Paying interest on debt supersedes even the Social Services. If you’re looking to do as little damage as possible to your domestic economy (this is our government, not China’s), you don’t prioritize paying the interest on the debt (multiplier well 1; those people are liquidity-constrained in a way that coupon-clippers never will be).

    And if you want to be a viable long-term investment, you don’t cut your current investment in long-term human capital (DoE, EPA).*

    So what do you do, pay bond interest, or pay for parts and repairs on that military equipment that keeps active-duty military active? If you’re sane, you put troops on the line in priority over investors whose interest payment won’t be the source of their next meal or the protection from that next IED.

    What does Brouwer say about these choices?

    No doubt picking and choosing who gets paid and who doesn’t would be chaotic. And, lots of programs would not get their funding and that would lead to plenty of screaming. Nonetheless, it should be clear from this exactly how much we are spending in excess of government revenues. And, that could and should lead to a sober assessment of what government can and cannot do.

    Ayup. Government can, if they ignore Brouwer’s advice, keep Brad DeLong calling this “The Little Depression,” keep people employed, and set up future growth with trained workforces and people who are not starved into unhealthiness.

    Or it can do what Brouwer wants, and pay bond market investors who don’t need the cash while soldiers die and people starve.

    Mark Thoma should be ashamed to share pageviews with this guy.

    *As Beverly’s post notes, Texas notes that “beginning 25 years ago, the state began significantly increasing its education funding and therefore the quality of its workforce.” Conservatives used to see the value of human capital development in creating an environment for jobs, and I still hold to that one.**

    **Rick Perry has, of course, reversed this, so anyone looking to start a business in the mid-2030s might do well to avoid the Lone Star State. Unless, of course, everyone else follows suit.

    Data Integrity Requires Personal Integrity and Vetting

    Anyone who has ever worked with data knows that making certain the information is “clean” is much more important than what you do with it. Brilliant analysis of inaccurate data may make heroes (Chamley, Prescott, etc.), but it doesn’t make sensible policy. Witness the release of “public” data from the state of Texas.

    Jeremy once commented that the transition from a public to a private university was the choice between everyone knowing your earnings(public data) and everyone knowing your student reviews.

    What happens when (1) everyone knows your salary but (2) what they know isn’t true:

    “My salary on the spreadsheet is $30,000 higher than my annual contract salary,” a lecturer in the University of Texas system wrote in an e-mail message. He did not want to be named because of his status as a non-tenure-track employee. “Other details are correct, but the number 99 percent of people will want to see is not. The spreadsheet says that it’s me, but it is not me.”

    So why would this happen? Because public universities in Texas aren’t allowed to treat their data as if they are private companies:

    System officials said the decision to release the data even though it was in draft form and included many gaps resulted from receiving multiple requests for it from news-media outlets under the state’s open-records laws. After noting the data’s shortcomings, in a disclaimer cautioning that the information was “incomplete and has not been fully verified or cross-referenced,” the system released it “in the spirit of openness and transparency” because much of the data was already public anyway, said Anthony P. de Bruyn, director of public affairs.

    Except, of course, that the data wasn’t already public. Public data is vetted; this had not been. So why was it released?

    Apparently, because no one asked what the legal consequences would be if they made certain it was accurate first:

    Thomas Kelley, a spokesman for the Texas attorney general’s office, said in an e-mail that the state’s Public Information Act “applies to records available on the date of request,” even if the university system thought the records being requested were incomplete. Mr. Kelley said system officials had two options: release the data available at the time or request a ruling from the attorney general’s office about whether the incomplete data must be released.

    And what was wrong? Well, almost anything:

    Mr. de Bruyn said the data, which spans the system’s nine academic campuses, was collected mostly at the institutional level. Yet professors have noticed some mistakes in the data that seem to point to a more-distant process.

    For instance, Renee Rubin, an associate professor in the department of language, literacy, and intercultural studies at the University of Texas at Brownsville, said she and her department chair were listed in the wrong department. “So then you begin to wonder what else is wrong,” Ms. Rubin says. [emphasis mine]

    Is it more worrisome if Mr. de Bruyn is correct, or if he is not?

    I’m think about this more intensely now in part because of the pending end of the publication of the invaluable Statistical Abstract of the United States. As Kieran Healy noted, “When it comes to the United States, the print and online versions of the SA are a peerless source of information for all your bullshit remediation needs.”

    Unlike the Texas imbroglio, the Statistical Abstract has a 133 year publication history and well-established reputation for accuracy. Destroying that reputation would have taken only one major incident; will anyone ever trust public data released in Texas again?

    But the Obama Administration’s “transparency initiatives” appear to be failing here as well, as an Unforced Error. (paging Brad DeLong) And the consequence will be something that more resembles the Texas debacle than accurate, independent policy analysis.

    Unless the Administration considers providing peacemeal, unstandardized information to be a feature, it appears to be a substantive bug.

    Because He Would Never Name N. Gregory Mankiw or R. Glenn Hubbard as Arsonists Screaming for a Fire Hose

    Go read Mark Thoma. Because he’s a kinder, gentler human being than I am:

    The time to stand up to the budget busting was when it happened, and when members of the list had the power to affect policy, not many years later in an article at Politico. Many on the list were either part of the decision making team in the 2000s that opened the hole in the budget, or supported what the team did.

    Or, as The Pragmatic Capitalist said on Twitter (h/t Joe Weisenthal, whose own take on the cabal is here; translated into English):

    So, 10 former White House economic advisers (who, judging by results, suck at their jobs) now say USA is bankrupt from high deficits.

    Grandpa died last week
    And now he’s buried in the rocks
    But everybody still talks about
    How badly they were shocked
    But me, I expected it to happen
    I knew he’d lost control
    When he built a fire on Main Street
    And shot it full of holes

    Mandate Up

    Mandate Up by The Bell offers some advice to his readers on the mood of the country:

    Their Promised Approach to Governance Didn’t Work Out So Well for the Last Guys

    During one of their debates, Nevada Tea Party Senatorial candidate Sharon Angle famously told Majority Leader Harry Reid to “Man up!” meaning he needed to toughen up in the face of adversity and take responsibility for his actions and their consequences. As it turned out, Reid apparently manned up sufficiently to become one of the relatively few Democrats avoiding rejection by voters last Tuesday.
    Republicans, the big winners in this election, were quick to see their victory as a justification to mandate up. Their victory moved Representative John Boehner of Ohio, the likely next Speaker of the House, to tears of relief because he believed his Party now could save the American Dream. “I think that it’s a mandate for Washington to reduce the size of government and continue our fight for smaller, less costly and more accountable government,” he told reporters.

    John Boehner and Mitch McConnell believe they have
    been given a mandate to undo Obamacare and Obama

    Boehner also believes Republicans have a mandate to repeal healthcare reform as passed by Democrats, calling it a “monstrosity” that “will kill jobs in America, ruin the best healthcare system in the world, and bankrupt our country.”
    Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who will remain Minority Leader because candidates like Angle did not prevail, was even more belligerent. He argued Republican lawmakers should vote to repeal healthcare reform, over and over if necessary. Then McConnell took it a step further, maintaining that merely opposing Obama’s policies was insufficient.
    Republicans top goal for the next two years should be doing anything and everything possible to deny the President a second term. McConnell reasons the only way for Republicans to undo everything is “to put someone in the White House who won’t veto any of these things.”
    For his part, Obama was chastened by the “shellacking” his Party suffered but unapologetic about his agenda, although he conceded he was so eager about what needed to be done he had forgotten how he promised to do it (i.e. outreach to Republicans and greater civility/bipartisanship). “I do believe there is [still] hope for civility,” he avowed.
    Boehner and McConnell flatly stated they would accept Obama’s help only as far as it coincided with their mission.
    They say the size of their victory demonstrates the American publicly has roundly rejected Democratic progressivism and this rejection cuts across all demographics and ideologies except for the extreme loony Left. Election results and exit polls tell a different story, however.
    For starters, one might assume – given the extent to which Republicans used Obama as a proxy against Democratic contenders – that Democrats who voted with the President would suffer the worst loses while those who distanced themselves and voted against him would do better. In fact, of the thirty-three House Democrats running for re-election who voted against healthcare reform, two-thirds were defeated. About the same was true among the forty-two who voted against Cap and Trade. In comparison, only two Senate Demorats who voted for both the stimulus and healthcare reform lost.
    CNN exit polls reject the oft-insisted conservative claim that this election was a referendum against Obamacare. Only seventeen percent of voters considered healthcare reform their top issue and more half voted for Democrats. Likewise, only thirty-seven percent said their vote meant “expressing opposition to Obama.” Even given continuing high unemployment and slow recovery, in the sixteen Democratic-represented Congressional districts hardest hit by the economy, only one flipped Republican.
    There is no question that Republicans received a loud and clear mandate from a cadre of energized conservative voters. However, far from representing all Americans, this group was both whiter and, especially, more elderly than the population as a whole. Republicans continued to lose eighteen to twenty-nine year olds by seventeen points. As Harold Meyerson of the Washington Post observed, “There was absolutely a Republican wave on Tuesday, but it looks more like the wave of the past than the wave of the future.”
    Republicans won with this cadre and Independent voters, who broke for the GOP in 2010 by about the same margin they went for Obama and Democrats in 2008. They were sending a mandate too but one less about ideological preference and more about results.
    The Washington Post’s David Broder explains, “There will be a temptation to interpret the Democrats’ loss of their House majority and of at least six Senate seats as a rejection of Obama’s first-term agenda . . . American voters are not that flighty or unsettled . . . The biggest problem by far was the economy . . . The worst mistake would be for [Obama] to abandon or reject his own agenda for government.”
    Broder’s conservative colleague Charles Krauthammer disagreed, arguing the rejection was so complete that neither Obama nor any future Democratic can or would wish to govern from a progressive philosophy ever again. However, he concurred on this key point – “Republicans [should not] over-interpret their Tuesday mandate. They received none.”
    Some pundits argue Obama’s fatal mistake was in overreaching while others maintain he was not nearly aggressive enough. Actually, Obama’s mistake was overestimating how long Americans would be patient over a sluggish economy from which the middle class had failed to benefit long before the recession. Republicans benefited as the only available alternative. They are also next in line for the boot if they fail to deliver. Moreover, nothing suggests voters have grown more patient.
    To this end, Republicans must focus on economic growth and creating jobs in the private sector. They must press for reforms but be willing to compromise on details. While attempting to repeal healthcare reform is a gesture owed to their most ardent constituents, they must present viable conservative alternatives to its most unpopular components. This is not my policy prescription but that of Karl Rove, writing in the Wall Street Journal.
    Boehner and McConnell may choose not to heed these admonitions. They may insist they have a mandate that represents the broad will of the American People. They may insist this election represented a permanent seismic shift to the ideological right by this country. They may insist compromise is a dirty word and only total repeal is sufficient. They may insist voters have seen the error of their ways and will patiently wait two years or more for them to build the majorities and power bases necessary to do things the right way. They may insist they only way they will not be successful is if the defeated Party is obstructionist.
    Of course, they insisted in the run-up to this election that these are exactly the same mistakes made by the Democratic leadership after 2008. As chief of the defeated, Obama noted in his press conference, “Ultimately, I’ll be judged as President as to the bottom line, results.” The same is true for Boehner, McConnell, and the rest of the Republicans swept into office last week.
    It is time for them to quit mandating up and start manning up. They have the acting tough part down pat. Now it is time to work on the taking responsibility part. Otherwise, it will quickly become clear nobody was listening to the American People this election.

    …being a good mother

    by Linda Beale
    crossposted with Ataxingmatter

    Friday Animations–being a good mother

    These days the tea partiers and libertarians have tended to mock those who think that we should all tax ourselves to take care of those who are less fortunate, and that the wealthiest amongst us–corporate managers, private equity managers, and shareholders–should pay more in taxes. Libertarians claim that everything they have “earned” is theirs, and that the government is stealing from them. They forget, or fail to notice, that nothing they have earned would have been possible without roads, contracts, internet, schools, disease control, decent food, clean air, clean water, clean soil, etc. Those are the things we want government to do for us–protect and preserve the environment that nurtures us, protect and preserve the infrastructure that gets us to and from our work and homes and lets us socialize with our friends and co-workers, protect and preserve our sources of food, clothing and housing. Help those of us who are most vulnerable whether from inherited traits or catastrophic illness or unfortunate accident or lack of work or old age. Protect and preserve.

    So this struck me as a good video feature for today–a pup whose young ones had grown up and been adopted, willing to mother some motherless kittens who needed milk and warmth and pulling out of danger. Mothering. Maybe that isn’t far from what is at the heart of good government, community spirit, and neighborliness –caring and showing a willingness to help others, to protect them, and preserve for them a home.

    "Run Government Like a Business" = Deficit Spending

    We’re used to that line by now. Ross Perot—one of the more prominent people who got rich due to government contracts—used it, Carly Fiorina and Meg Whitman are using it (while desperately hoping you don’t pay attention to how they ran Lucent/HP or eBay), and Aaron Sorkin even had Charles Grodin say it in Dave, if only to establish his Sensible Centrist cred.

    So how are businesses running their debt-laden firms? Ask the WSJ and ye shall receive:

    U.S. corporations have taken full advantage of low interest rates, going on a bond-issuing binge that has left them with tons of cash, which they appear to be holding largely as insurance against a new bout of financial turmoil, rather than spending on new hires. Nonfinancial companies were sitting on about $8.4 trillion in cash as of the end of March, or about 7% of all company assets, the highest level since 1963. Even before its [$1.5 billion at the bargain-basement interest rate of only 1%] bond issue, IBM had $12.3 billion in cash and short-term investments, which accounted for about 12% of all its assets.

    The WSJ is, of course, worried about The Savers:

    Meanwhile, though, savers are seeing some of the worst nominal returns in decades. As of June, the weighted average interest rate on deposits, money-market funds and other highly liquid investments stood at only 0.29%. Returns on riskier investments aren’t great, either: The average yield on near-junk bonds with maturities close to 30 years stood at about 5.9% this week.

    As Brad DeLong said recently, in a slightly different context, “I share [the] belief that these numbers ought to be higher. But I also think that I don’t have very good reasons to claim that I am right that they should be higher.”

    Neither does the market.

    And it’s not as if those companies were all saving during the Good Times. Indeed, they were arguably more poorly managed than the government. As Floyd Norris noted almost two years ago:

    Over the last four years, since the buyback boom began, from the fourth quarter of 2004 through the third quarter of 2008, companies in the S&P500 showed:

    Reported earnings: $2.42 trillion
    Stock buybacks: $1.73 trillion
    Dividends: $0.91 trillion

    The net flows there is -$220B, give or take a billion. It’s spending roughly $1.10 for every dollar you earn. And, to make matters worse, nearly twice as much was spent to make people go away (buybacks) than to reward loyalty (dividends).

    If the government really were to be run like a successful business—the way the S&P500 are run, the way IBM is run—they would be borrowing long-term right now at that 2.82% 10-year or even than 4.00% 30-year rate.

    If it’s good enough for IBM, it should be good enough for the U.S. Government. The Mitt Romneys and Ross Perots have been telling us that for years; many we should listen?

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    Responding to Glenn Greenwald’s: What the Supreme Court Got Right

    by Divorced one like Bush

    For this post I will formally introduce myself. I am Daniel J. Becker. It is only proper and just to do so. I am using Mr. Greenwalds discussion only as a platform to add my thoughts regarding the Citizens United decision.  Also this is a long read. So I’ll give you up front the crib note version: The source of error and thus argument is that the arguing/arguments are starting in the middle of the line of reasoning and not at the beginning.

    The “rule of law” means we faithfully apply it in ways that produce outcomes we like and outcomes we don’t like.

    The above is, I believe, the thrust of Mr. Greenwald’s argument. It has always been his strength and the source of the pleasure I receive when I read his arguments. I do not disagree with his statement. I believe it is the same argument presented by Mr. Jonathan Turley on MSNBC and by the ACLU. Mr. Turley specifically states that the Constitution does not protect us from bad decisions.

    Our predicament with this latest decision and the examples of Bush et al’s “warrantless eavesdropping, torture, unilateral Presidential programs” which Mr. Greenwald presents is not found in the argument of whether we like or dislike the outcome. The argument however is addressing an issue I have had for years with the way law is practiced.

    What is the proper means of using, applying, implementing a form of governance based on the ideology of “the rule of law”?

    We need to step back further to see the source that can lead to a dire results upon implementing a ruling of properly applied law. One side is asking “how can you ignore the cliff?” The other is responding with “it’s the law”. There might even be a third party arguing that both sides can be viewed as just differences of interpretation of the words used. Maybe this even comes down to a simple placing of a comma? 

    Seems like quite the dilemma for us, no? If we are not true to applying the law as written then we are by definition of “rule of law” no longer under “rule of law” and thus the entire concept of law as we are historically taught becomes instantly nonexistent.

    So it appears we are at times left with only the forced acceptance of hurting ourselves, hurting our social order for the ideal of living by the rule of law, an ideal existing for the purpose of removing the errors of emotion in the attempt to achieve betterment in producing justice.

    I’m sorry. I will not accept that a system designed by persons who devoted their lives to understanding human nature and history, and used civil war to create the environment needed such that their ideas regarding government could live, is inherently flawed in a manor that we have to live with the threat of what can be called “legal masochism”. The question becomes: Where is the flaw in the application of the ideal and concept of “the rule of law” such that we have a masochistic results? Even Mr. Turley notes that this current decision has the ability to be a major self flagellation.

    The only point at which both sides or all sides can resolve this predicament (assuming you are not accepting that legal masochism is an inherent aspect of our system) is at the place in any sentence where the word “faith” or it’s variant appears. Faithfully. Faithful. This word “faith” can not be interpreted and thus the sentence understood without answering the question: Given to what? What is our faith given to? What is the basis of our faith? We give faith to something because we accept that the “something” has a power of some nature.

    SCOTUS: …and that I will faithfully and impartially discharge and perform all the duties incumbent upon me as _________, according to the best of my abilities and understanding, agreeably to the constitution and laws of the United States.

    All federal employees: …that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…

    President: …I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

    Vice President:… I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…

    Congress: …I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same…

    The only entity in our governing system not to specifically or tangentially pledge their faith to the Constitution is “We the People”. The Pledge of Allegiance is a pledge to each other as one. I would argue, that such a pledge implies our faith in “We the People”. This is as it should be. We are not bound to the Constitution by any external power. Not by religious power, royalty power, dictatorial power, corporate power, etc. We can not be so bound because we are the power. There is no other hierarchical power in our system of governance. Any faith we express regarding our ability to govern our self is the result of the enlightened reality that people governed are the source of all governance power. We are the power. We agreed to this understanding of power in ratifying the Constitution.

    Thus, the only power that the Constitution has is the power that We write into it. This is the genius of our founders. The Constitution is the written word so to speak of our power. It is our collective thoughts regarding governance. It is our identity as a governed people. It is the blue print to be used by any entity to come if such entity desired to reproduce our governance mind.

    Many have noted the Preamble of the Constitution as a reference to why the Citizens United ruling is in error. The presentation is that it states only “We the People” and thus follows that only humans can have rights and power. But, this is incorrect as to why the argument as Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Turley state is in error.

    The Preamble does not give power to us. The Preamble however, is very important for it is the statement from us to each other declaring what “We the people” will do with our power. The Preamble is the point of source and reference for all of our laws and the Bill of Rights and thus rulings. The Preamble is the stated purpose and desired goal of the application of our power. It is the final test as to the consistency of all that comes after it. All that comes after the Preamble is the listed means by which we will exercise our power. This includes the Bill of Rights. As an individual, it would be one’s purpose in life.

    Here’s the real rub however, that I have with all I have read and the current way law is practiced and the reason for the above set up of this discussion. I am not a sum of parts and neither are you. I am a whole, a one which can not be understood or related to by subsection analysis. My intentions can not be fully implemented or appreciated as to their appropriateness to my overarching purpose independently of each. If you accept that this is true and I believe that the prevailing founders did, then our Constitution as the written word of our power and it’s use must so be understood and applied as a whole life which is summarized in the Preamble.

    To exercise our Constitution in a reductionist manor, I believe is a mistake and a disservice to the intellect of those who wrote it. Such proof of thought can be found in the very division of our power. No one division can have purpose, can have material to work with without the other. The concept of separate but equal can only be appreciated if it is understood that the separation is only for the purpose of job distinction. Our power can not be exercised in whole by any one branch. The strength of the whole of our power can not be experienced in any one branch. That each branch is originated in the Constitution and each branch is dependent on the others for its job, is proof of construct and thus application and exercise of the Constitution and all that comes after it. One can not properly determine the appropriateness of any decision originating out of any of the branches without considering the the relationship to the whole of the Constitution. The whole being the relationship back to the Preamble which is the stated purpose and intentions of the application of our power. That such work is not performed creates what the Citizens United case has created…legal masochism.

    Yes, we are at the point of faith. “We the People” refers to a collective and thus, the collective faith in the source of governance power. Our government exists solely as the result of our collective agreement to have faith in the idea that the power to govern comes from the governed. The entirety of our power is the collective faith in the idea: the power to govern comes from the governed. This was never made more real to me than when the issue of the “Nuclear Option” materialized. I wondered why not just go to the SCOTUS to get the question of constitutionality settled? I learned that the SCOTUS would not consider such a question coming from another equally powerful branch of our governance. Thus, the rule regarding filibusters and in fact the entire functioning of our government as laid out in the Constitution came down to an agreement by two parties (political or otherwise) to abide by the rules . Once one side decides not to agree, all governance related to the purposeful use of our power as stated in the Preamble stops. It is the Civil war at the extreme of disagreement. It includes the decision to not abide by the intention of the use of our power as stated in the Preamble leading to our incapable congress.  That is, filibustering everything.  It is why one party could pass all they wanted with just 50 votes.

    There is only one means by which an individual or collection of individuals can decide not to agree as it relates to applying our power as designated in the Constitution. It is by not placing faith in the source of the power of government. Once faith is given to any other power than “We the People”, our government instantly ceases to exist. There is no Constitution, no Constitutional power, no Constitutional declaration of the purpose and use of power without faith in “We the People”. It is in this understanding that the argument as presented by Mr. Greenwald and Mr. Turley and those who present the first three words of the Preamble in counter argument fail.   Placing power of any type in any entity other than “We the People” is a displacement  of the faith.  Stating that power comes from any other source than “We the People” is a displacement of the faith.  Both makes the Constitution just a bunch of words.

    There is a reason those who are charged with acting on our behalf, charged with implementing our intent have to pledge their faith to the Constitution. It is because they are pledging their faith to the source of the power they will exercise: We the People. In pledging to the Constitution, they are pledging to Us. It is this pledge to Us that gives us the ability to judge where their faith lays. The moment power is place in something other than “We the People”, our governance as dictated by the Constitution ceases to exist.

    This gets us to the freedom of speech issue. Freedom of speech can only be applied to Us because as a declared right within our Constitution, the document that is the materialization of our power, it is a declared means by which We exercise our power. There is no other source of power regarding governance and thus there is no other entity that can have or obtain such power. The right of free speech can not be bestowed to an entity that is not a “people” by virtue of judging it’s bestowment via the Constitution. To do so is a violation of the pledge of faith to the source of our power.

    In the issue of the entity called a corporation, the only true means to give it such power would be through legislation though I would argue that the transference of power properly has to be by constitutional amendment as all issues of seat of power are of the Constitution and not laws created by the legislative branch. Laws can not create power in our governance as it is constructed. At the same time, being that corporations are creations of law, it is impossible to reason that they can have the free exercise of a power which is only sourced from our faith in the idea that the power to govern comes from us. That the SCOTUS in the past has ruled (and this is even questioned) that corporations are proxies for people is a misplace of faith. It is a violation of their oath.

    Then again, I could have simply pointed out that to conflate our economic system and its structure and components with our governance system as being a proxy for our governance system is the gravest of insults to our founders.  They certainly understood power and they certainly understood the power of pooled money.

    Corporations are properly a part of our economic system. It is a system that is in service to “We the people” for it only exists by virtue of law and not by virtue of the Constitution. It is a system that exists for a very specific and limited purpose; a purpose that does not included being a part of our governmental structure which exists for the purpose of exercising our power. Those structures that exist for the exercise of Our power are only the three branches. But consider the argument that corporation are just a coming together of people to exercise their power? Such a thought is a violation of our Constitution and ultimately our faith because the only means to come together to exercise our power is the direct interaction with our government through our Constitution. It’s called voting. That is the only means that exists in the Constitution for all those “strict constitutionalists”.

    The economic system should properly be viewed as the results of our implementation of laws that protects us during the exercising of our personal freedom, not power. Freedom certainly results in greater power, but we have limited our individual exercise of power via our faith in the collective power such that all are endowed with the freedom of “domestic tranquility” and “the Blessings of Liberty.” One is free not to be screwed by another to be blunt but, one is not free to screw another.

    At this point I am willing to accept that what I am suggesting with this entire presentation suggests that we are currently living under many rulings that are actually in error and thus would result in the undoing of a major amount of what we consider settled law. For example, the entity called a corporation should have never been accepted as the proper vehicle, model or structure for people to freely assemble for the purpose of forming a relationship with their government. Free assembly is just that. Assembly free of formal structure. What it means is that those looking to be elected really do need to go one person at a time to get said person’s vote. What it means is that at the point in the growth of our nation that campaigning became an expense for the candidate, we should have implemented public funding via law, or amended the Constitution to allow another form of assemble for the purpose of funding campaigns. Such a method would be an issue of placing power and certainly relates to the Preamble’s stated purpose and application of our power:

    …in Order to form a more perfect Union.

    Thank you.

    Much to My Amazement

    UPDATE: It gets even stranger. The bankrupt-since-October-2008 Lehman Brothers is going to pay $50,000,000 in bonuses for this year. (h/t alea’s Twitter feed)

    It appears all of the “gosh, we really made a lot of money from bailing out rich bankers who socked it to their customers” rhetoric is having a small problem in the realization:

    The U.S. government abruptly shelved plans to start trimming its 34% stake in Citigroup Inc., after investors demanded a price so low that the Treasury Department would have lost money on the deal….

    The huge offering encountered a lukewarm reception on Wall Street, where investors were skeptical of the company’s earnings prospects…

    Gosh, golly, gee. Really? I wonder if that’s a recent phenomenon:

    (Recession period—still not officially over—shown in cyan.)

    Hmmm. Guess not. Ah, well, there’s always next year. Or the year after. Or…