What if they're all wrong? I suspect they are...

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Since coming on board here I've made a fair sampling of the content. My initial impressions are thus: there is a relatively equal sampling of loons from either end of the spectrum, as one is likely to find anywhere else, but it seems to me that this forum represents an accurate sampling of the middle. In political terms the middle is also frequently labelled as "moderate" or "undecided" or the safe bet "independent".  The middle is where most of the world lives, actually, in spite of what some will try to convince us to the contrary. I tend to make a great effort to shy away from any position that is alarmist in character, though now and again I will make an exception to this, but I sense a growing concern that the numbers of the middle are beginning to contract. No cause for panic, for their numbers indeed still constitute a majority, but there are forces chipping away at the edges.

 

The middle (for purpose of discussion I'll stick with this description) is the political ground that is well suited to democratic republics. It is a place where many of us can find enough common ground with our neighbors that we can tolerate each other. We can still have disagreements in varying points, some of which will surely never be resolved, but there is enough common stock that we are able to coexist in a relatively peaceable fashion. I know we have an international audience so for those of you beyond these borders I beg your indulgence for these reflections. I can only speak for what I know here.

 

I have on some occasions encountered it here, but more often in person, that those on the extreme ends of either spectrum are determined by their speech and actions to marginalize the middle. The middle is squishy. In order to be recognized one is expected to accept all of a dogma, there can be no impurity of thought to soil their particular brand of orthodoxy. It is from this that we are presented a picture of a society that is much more polarized than it truly is. This is a purposeful portrait from both ends of the divide. It is in the interest of their respective agendas to continue to stoke turmoil.

 

I have heard the opinions of a number of people from outside our borders that condemn the United States. They have plenty of company from Americans as well. If I try to make my case with either of the extremes I am subjected to derision and name calling. That's fine, I have a pretty thick skin. So I offer my appeal to that vast middle, wherever they may reside. When I speak up to defend the country it is not as an apologist. The United States, in it's history, has committed ample offenses. I do not attempt to deny these. The most egregious of these was the wholesale genocide of the native american nations. There is no way to deny this. I am bothered by some of the frankly outrageous deeds that are assigned to the US. Many of these are fomented by dishonest parties with an ulterior agenda. I would ask that you use a grain of common sense and recognize these when they appear. There are enough cases that are true and verifiable to make your case, there is no need to fabricate. That only diminishes any credibility you may have.

 

I will be among the first to declare that we have strayed a long, long way from our founding. In terms of practice there is much that is wrong with this country. Countries are comprised of people. Just as people are imperfect so are nations. Our English cousins have been an equally ripe target for the abuses, real or perceived, of the British Empire. Here again there is no need for any embellishments, there is enough that is true. This still does not diminish the overall contribution and lasting legacy of the empire, which I would submit was on the whole generally positive. I've no doubt there are those among you who will disagree and you're certainly free to do so. I won't belabor the question.

 

Within these borders there is a battle between two competing parties. On some points their platforms are diametrically opposed, but in practice, in the exercise of governing, there is little if any difference between the two. This is easily judged by the results. Washington is bought and paid for. Trump says he wants to shake all of that up. Drain the swamp. This may or may not be genuine, I've no way of knowing for certain. It may very well be just another case of telling people what they want to hear. I am not one to automatically discount anything the man says because of the way he is. To me he typifies the brash New Yorker, which for my own tastes is not a flavor of my liking, but this alone hardly disqualifies him. There are points upon which I believe he is correct. After having had a man occupy the office who can say all the right things but acts foolishly I can regard the man who sometimes speaks foolishly and yet still sometimes can act wisely as a welcome lesser of two evils. My purpose is not to endorse Trump, far from it. I have enough distaste for the establishment slime that occupies Washington to understand that much of the furor surrounding this president is that he doesn't want to be a part of their club. He won't play by their rules. He is like Rodney Dangerfield's character in the film Caddyshack.

 

One party persists in the idea that we simply need to spend more. Keep throwing more money at it and things will eventually get better. The other party simply wants to play defense. They still want to spend the money, they just think their spending is smarter and as long as they can slow down the direction everything will work out. The fire-breathers on both sides continue to fan the flames of division. They are both wrong. We've long since sailed past that port. The federal government has grown so large, so intrusive, so unaccountable that slowing things will not solve anything. It is an out of control apparatus that needs to be deconstructed. You can't keep making promises that you know damn well will never be fulfilled. You can't just keep printing currency or adding zeros to the ledger. America as the ideal expressed and mapped out in our Constitution is still a viable form of self governance. If we were to return to the Jeffersonian principles we could make this work again. I fear, however, that enough damage has been done that this will not occur by some ordered process. The only hope that we have for that course of action to succeed is to employ it as the method for rebuilding after the roof has caved in. If you listen carefully you can hear the trusses creaking under the strain.

 

It was once said that the " republic is yours, if you can keep it ". The middle needs to prepare themselves to restore it. For those beyond our shores who would celebrate this country laid low I say enjoy your schadenfreude. For a great number of us we'll be only to happy to return to a time when we simply minded our own store. Understand the difference between the country and it's capitol. Washington does not represent what the American ideal is about any more than it represents Americans. Washington only represents Washington's interest.

 

Beneath the noble birth

Between the proudest words

Behind the beauty cracks appear

Once with heads held high

They sang out to the sky

Why do their shadows bow in fear?

 

Neil Peart

From Beneath,Between, Behind

1975

 

Comments

The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 13, 2017 - 12:43pm
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The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 13, 2017 - 1:24pm
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Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jul 13, 2017 - 3:34pm
I have heard the opinions of a number of people from outside our borders that condemn the United States.
 
I think I'm being addressed as well here ;-)
 
I admit that I hate that
 
- the US starts wars for profit around the world (but...if not them, others would too, human character)
 
- the US has a population which, to the OUTSIDE view, seems not to care what the results of their actions are around the world, because "we're no. 1 anyway"
 
- the US covers the world with GMO's and potentially dangerous junk foods
 
- the US favors monocultures in the 3rd world which robs local farmers of their existence
 
- the US pretends to be a "Christian nation" (religions are supposed to be tolerant to each other by their proper definition) but provokes aggressions in non-Christian countries
 
- the US has by far the most military bases in the world (defense ??? LOL)
 
- the US exports non-culture like Gangsta Rap, street gangs and dumbing down TV series, and gives them awards for their crap
 
That's what we see here. As I said before: It's not against the people per se, but about that constant attention the US seems to need (and gets) in the media, although there's more than 150 nations and countries on that planet.
 
IF the US would start to behave more humble and try to understand that different people need their culture to identify with, and the loss of that provokes aggression, it would help.
 
Does Trump speak another language than English ? I guess not. A president HAS to be able to speak several languages in order to get the culture of a people.
 
But since he's no. 1....
 
Ok, I'm done :-)
Ian Thorpe Added Jul 13, 2017 - 3:49pm
" [The middle] is a place where many of us can find enough common ground with our neighbors that we can tolerate each other ...

Is it? Let's ask the Bonzo Dog band:
My Pink Half Of The Drainpipe - Bonzo Dog
John G Added Jul 13, 2017 - 3:56pm
Amusing to see that you class yourself a moderate when the people you see as leftists are right wing neoliberals and neoconservatives.
That puts you on the fringes.
Dino Manalis Added Jul 13, 2017 - 3:56pm
 The middle is strong and sensible, borrowing good ideas from both the Right and Left, but maintaining independence from extremism!
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jul 13, 2017 - 4:07pm
BTW: Side note - it's not only the US, it's the whole sick Western world. Europe included. But Europe is the tail of the US.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 13, 2017 - 4:31pm
Stone - I respect your thoughts on this and you have fairly admitted that you only see from the outside. That speaks to my point that Washington does not represent America or the American ideal. You see what others decide that they want you to see, and frankly there are too many Americans who likewise find themselves at that disadvantage. The problem is not so much what gets reported, its how much goes unreported, whatever the reasons.
As far as the christian aspect of it this is a question I have addressed in another forum. Look for my post on this on Sunday
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 13, 2017 - 4:38pm
One more thing Stone....
 
Nothing directed at you exclusively. You strike me as reasonable, someone who is actually able to discuss such matters. That doesnt mean we must always be in agreement.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jul 13, 2017 - 4:58pm
TBH
 
Same here :-)
 
I appreciate your tolerance seen what I said in my first comment. But then - I don't deny that we Europeans (not we Swiss, we're too small LOL) started that whole shit that still keeps going on.
Leroy Added Jul 13, 2017 - 5:41pm
Well said, TBH.  However, I would disagree with you about the middle.  The solution won't come from there.  I suspect it will come from some polarizing event, war or natural disaster or something catastrophic. 
 
I happen to think our Founding Fathers got it right.  Their view was an extremist view.  I share that view.  I favor a literal interpretation of the Constitution.  If we don't like, change it legally, but don't let the Supreme Court usurp the powers of the legislative branch.  Somehow, we have to get back to the original intent of all powers not ceded to the federal government belong to the states.  We need to shrink government, not grow it.  That belief puts me at the extreme. 
 
I don't think that a welfare state has a chance of working.  Sooner or later you run out of other people's money.  Endless wars have bankrupted nations.  War should be fought when necessary, and, when fought, fought with brutality with the aim to crush the enemy.  Today, we have wars which we sit back in the comfort of our homes to cheer our team on.  That needs to stop.  Remove the threat and move on.  We have no business trying to win the peace.  I am not into nation building.  Yeah, sure, help them help themselves, but do not waste our treasury and the lives of young men and women to help those that would only destroy us.
 
I have an extreme view; I admit that.  But, I happen to believe it is the correct view.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jul 13, 2017 - 5:45pm
Leroy
 
We need to shrink government
 
Same here, especially in Switzerland. Government limits the evolution of the regular Joe in favor of the bigger ones/globals. But then:
 
Government = Economy.
 
Intertwined, interwoven. What to do ?
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 13, 2017 - 6:06pm
Leroy - hear what youre saying, but I think ultimately it does come from the middle. If you are thinking in terms of the electoral or legislative process you may be right, but the catastrophic event is what I'm anticipating. What comes in the wake of that will be in the hands of the middle. It has to be or there is no hope. I'm not saying its the big war or anything of the more apocalyptic nature. We are in the middle of a slow motion train wreck my friend. As our hindu friends might say "this shit has happened before". It has happened before and it never ends well. We just need to know where to begin when its time to start over. Follow the constitution, keep the leash on federal authority and adhere to Jefferson's principles: that which governs least governs best
opher goodwin Added Jul 13, 2017 - 6:40pm
Burghal - it must be me that you are talking about - someone in the middle ground who speaks nothing but common sense.
The trouble with the middle ground, from my position in it, is that it is so full of people with no views of their own who swallow what they are given and behave like sheep. They have no imagination and no solutions other than to sit on the fence. They are so boring. I'm trying to get out.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 13, 2017 - 7:03pm
Opher - 
 
Ill assume that you offer this tongue in cheek. You, my friend, are nowhere near the middle.
The fact that you characterize those in the middle as sheep with an inability to form their own thoughts is a stellar illustration of your elitist tendencies. I dont fault you for it because I understand that you are unaware of it. It is just part of who you are. And you know what? Thats O K. As long as you are not directing public policy where I live you are harmless ☺
George N Romey Added Jul 13, 2017 - 7:24pm
I think our founding fathers hated big institutions.  That being said they could have never imagined a Wal Mart or a world in which countries produce weapons that could end life on Earth.  So I think that when people pontificate about what the founding fathers would say about how big government has become they are making assumptions with no basis for their reasoning.
 
Big government was a reaction to big business.  In the late 19th century the US suddenly caught up in the industrial revolution surpassing the UK and we have remained supreme since then. Teddy Roosevelt felt the only other "institution" with a stick big enough to beat back the ills of super capitalism was the federal government.
 
Life has only gotten more complicated and everything we know bigger and bigger.  Everything that used to be local is now some multinational corporation.  To head back to some vision of when man set his own agenda and government had little more to do than protect the shores is naive.
 
So now we are divided on what government should be and how should we rule. The middle has crumpled because elites are doing exceptionally well with a government and society that is unable to get things done.  More importantly, government grows but it benefits the fewer and fewer.  We are $20 trillion in debt, half of that during less than the previous ten years but we have very little to show for it.
 
Our founding fathers would probably be horrified that government has stopped being for the mass of its citizens.   The truth is that if we had more widespread prosperity and a US first policy we could probably have far less but more effective government. 
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 13, 2017 - 7:29pm
The key word there being less
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 13, 2017 - 7:31pm
The only thing I want from my government is for it to leave me the fuck alone
George N Romey Added Jul 13, 2017 - 7:34pm
When people behave badly we get more government.  For years the banking sector screamed that 1930s style regulations were no longer necessary.  There is footage on YouTube of Bernie Madoff in the 1990s claiming the market was too sophisticated for anyone to pull off a massive fraud.  So in the second half of the 1990s we repealed all New Deal legislation and within ten years we had another 1929 type of event.  
Bill H. Added Jul 13, 2017 - 8:19pm
 
SEF - I understand fully your view of the US from the outside. There was a time way back when most of the rest of the world had respect for the US, as I know my parents from the UK and Jamaica would tell me. I also have relatives in NZ, Canada, and Norway who told me the same.
We have new entered an isolationist era, so I suspect things will actually worsen rather than improve in this area.
Leroy Added Jul 13, 2017 - 8:26pm
I agree with Opher to an extent.  We have one group that believes more government is the solution, roughly one-third of the people.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, roughly one-third believes in less government.  I should clarify that my less government it I mean less federal government.  The third or so in the middle is clueless, being swayed by the two extremes.  I got so sick of these moralizing, mindless idiots being interviewed about whom they would vote for on election day.   The choices couldn't have been more stark.  They sit there weighing opposites.
 
I realize that the DNA of Republicans and Democrats is 98% the same.  No matter who gets elected, we can expect more of the same.  Trump wasn't my first choice or even my second, but he is the best last hope.  He was elected against all odds.  Let's hope he can turn it around--against all odds.  Surely, there is no one else.  We are running out of other peoples' money.  Sure, the center cannot hold.
George N Romey Added Jul 13, 2017 - 8:33pm
Leroy the system is not sustainable and all the government hocus pocus stats are junk.  We need an "economic cleanse" as difficult and ugly as that will be.  The system is not fixable.  We need jubilee and a new start.  After the crash we can go back to an economy built upon real savings and investment, limited and much wiser use of debt and people living within their means but yet having social mobility to increase their means if they so desire.  Yes we are screwed but not long term anymore than Depression era Americans. 
 
Wall Street needs to take a massive haircut and demand has to get so bad that corporations wake up to the fact that employees are customers too.
John G Added Jul 13, 2017 - 9:50pm
Wishing a crash is just insane. What is needed is expansionary fiscal policy to get people back to work, wages growing and to start delivering the government services that modern societies need.
What Romey wants is impossible. It's like wishing 2 + 2 = 7.
Leroy Added Jul 13, 2017 - 11:13pm
I agree, George, that the system is not sustainable.  How do we fix it?  Or do we let it crash and pick up the pieces?
John G Added Jul 13, 2017 - 11:20pm
You can't wish away the paradox of thrift.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 14, 2017 - 5:13am
Perhaps I should have used another term to express the middle. Not undecided, as those paraded before the cameras every election cycle. How about unaligned? People who are not prepared to drink either side's kool-aid.
 
I know the types you refer to, Leroy, and although these may be counted in that number they are not the people I am primarily referring to. There are a good number classified as undecided who are simply not satisfied with their choices. They reject what either side is serving. When I say the middle is shrinking I dont mean that they are migrating in either direction; they are simply opting out. To some extent we saw a reversal of this in the last election, but as the circus in Washington unfolds I suspect a good number of these will simply bail again.
John G Added Jul 14, 2017 - 5:34am
You're the fringe, Buddy. The movement of people away from the mainstream is on the left. Bernie Sanders is the most popular politician in America.
You're on the extreme right wing with the oligarchs.
The Koch brothers have little popular appeal outside your little fascist enclaves. 
Bill Kamps Added Jul 14, 2017 - 6:37am
Stone, mostly the US people are unaware of all the  things the government does around  the world. 
 
Of course we are constantly bombarded with how the Russians are some great threat to us, when they have an economy smaller than that of Italy.  Given the media coverage people probably think their economy is on a par with the EU, instead of one of its medium sized members.  Yes they have some nukes, but beyond that they no real ability to project power very far beyond their borders.
 
We get a sanitized version of what is happening which fails to mention our involvement.  The  Ukraine is a great example.  It is repeated endlessly  that the  Russians invaded, it is never really said why, what our role was, or the historical context of why it was inevitable if their hold on the Crimea was threatened.  That if people are even paying attention to what is said, which most arent.
 
I get a chuckle when some news outlet indignantly describes a Russian jet buzzing one of our destroyers in the Black Sea.  They never say why we have a destroyer in the Black Sea, or what we would do if a Russian destroyer were in the Gulf of Mexico.
 
While the US has military bases all over the world, and is somehow involved in most countries either trading or otherwise, the population as a whole is very domestic.  A rather small percentage of people have traveled outside the US, especially if you dont count Mexico and Canada.  There are many reasons for it, but the big oceans make it kind of expensive, and also make other places seem more remote.  Plus there is lot to see and do here, so why go there? Until passports were needed to go to Mexico, I would guess a pretty large percentage of people didnt even have passports, and it still maybe more than half.
 
Largely people dont know a lot about what is happening, and largely they dont care.  When we are told that we did something we are told we were the good guys, which sometimes is true, but often is not.
 
 
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 14, 2017 - 7:27am
Well explained Bill, especially your conclusion
Leroy Added Jul 14, 2017 - 7:34am
TBH, it will take someone passionate about fixing the problems and someone charismatic, like Reagan or even a Bill Clinton or JFK.  It will take a polarizing event to align the people, war or natural disaster or alien invasion.  It will take someone who can prioritize. It will take someone who can reject the nonsense from both sides.  It will take a Swamp Thing, someone who emerges from the swamp.  It will take compromise.  Not the usual compromise that ends up with everyone getting something, for that is the source of our problems.  It will take the giving up of things which we hold sacred.
Bill Kamps Added Jul 14, 2017 - 10:23am
Leroy, I dont see how things change, since they  never were any different.  Ever since the  passage of the Federal Income Tax, government  has been a steadily growing beast that takes care of itself.  Before 1900 the  Federal government was rather small, and people had to make do for themselves.  We can differ whether it was better or worse.  These  days there is no such thing as limited government.  In one form or another, one  way or another governments in the world have taken control of much of the activity in a country.  The people running things are not going to give it up.
 
Even many states now have income taxes to feed their endless appetite for revenue.  We dont have one here in Texas, and we have limited our state legislature to meeting every other year  for 90 days. That seems to be the  only way to limit government, dont give them money, and dont allow them to work.
 
Even if George's predicted meltdown happens, the people running things afterward will be the same people running things now.  It has always  been that the  rich and well connected ran things, however 100 years ago what  they ran was much smaller than today.  That is the only real difference.
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jul 14, 2017 - 12:52pm
mostly the US people are unaware of all the  things the government does around  the world. 
 
Ah-huh. The land of the Internet which even has newspapers. Don't US kids go to school ? LOL
Leroy Added Jul 14, 2017 - 1:10pm
Maybe you are right, Bill; the actors aren't being replaced.  The is why I say it will take a Swamp Thing to make changes.  Anything from outside the swamp is doomed to failure.  Witness the unrelenting attacks against Trump.   They will keep slinging their swamp stuff until something sticks.  It has to be one of their own who leads the change.  If not, failure.  Perhaps one saving grace is that the US is better off than most countries.  It will be among the last to be flushed down the toilet.
John G Added Jul 14, 2017 - 9:49pm
Kamps. The 'size' of the government should be what the people want it to be. If they want government services and social infrastructure the so be it.
There is no optimum size or spending constraint. There are democratic principals involved that override any arbitrary financial ideological tomfoolery.
 
Dave Volek Added Jul 14, 2017 - 11:27pm
TBH: You sound like a fellow who may be open-minded enough to spend three hours to read new ideas about democracy. Check out Tiered Democratic Governance. No political parties; no political parties; voting based on character and competence and previous service; government BY the people!
 
Other than that, good article.
 
 
 
John G Added Jul 14, 2017 - 11:36pm
Re TDG Libya, before NATO destroyed it had a system of councils and public meetings that worked pretty damned well.
It wasn't 'western democracy' but it was far more democratic in the true sense of the word.
John G Added Jul 15, 2017 - 3:55am
By the way Burgler, your concept of what money is is utterly false.
How can you pretend to understand the world when you don't understand money?
Saint George Added Jul 15, 2017 - 4:10am
By the way Burgler, your concept of what money is is utterly false.
How can you pretend to understand the world when you don't understand money?
 
The Modern Monetary Theory of money is a self-delusional fantasy of how the economy in fact works and of what money is and how it is created. Stephanie Kelton is an inflationist kook whom the world would have gladly forgotten had it not been for the fact that she was hand-picked by Bernie Sanders to head his economic team. Now that Bernie Sanders and his wife are being investigated by the FBI for fraud (leading to the bankruptcy and closure of a well-respected liberal arts college in Vermont) maybe they can all share a prison cell together: Sanders, for bank fraud; Kelton, for impersonating an economist.
 
In any case, that Kelton admires such an empty bag-of-hot-air as J.M. Keynes shows the shallowness of her critical thinking abilities.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 15, 2017 - 4:24am
Dave -
 
It sounds like a worthwhile read.
Thanks for the link. Im sure I can manage the time.
 
Saint -
 
I despise Keynes. JG is the second coming of Keynes. Pay him no mind
John G Added Jul 15, 2017 - 4:37am
LOL, Why do you despise Keynes?
Do you know anything about Keynes?
Of course you don't.
You little fascist freak.
Saint George Added Jul 15, 2017 - 5:13am
JG is the second coming of Keynes. Pay him no mind
 
Indeed. Keynes never got a Ph.D in economics. In fact, his field of interest at Cambridge was mainly mathematics, not economics. I understand that while he was there, he only took one course in the subject. Doesn't exactly make him an expert (except in the eyes of those similarly bemused and confused).
 
Additionally, Keynes never held a tenured professorship in economics.
 
Why anyone today would build an alter to someone so unaccomplished in the field he eventually became famous for is beyond me. It's sort of like building a statue to Tiny Tim and his ukelele at a major conservatory of music. As a freshman student prank, perhaps; but if approved by the dean and financed by the school's endowment fund . . . ?
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 15, 2017 - 6:42am
Stone -
 
I agree with you thoughts regarding language. I am uncommon from the majority of Americans. I speak German, have a rudimentary comprehension of French and Spanish and even tackled a little Russian. 
 As a Swiss citizen you naturally have a better perspective on the value of multi-lingualism.
An interesting story on this idea...
 
In my years on the road I did business with a fairly large firm in Montreal. The principal of this company was a gentleman from Brooklyn. Needless to say he stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb in Montreal. He was a sharp businessman and seemed entirely comfortable living amid the Francophone culture of the city, yet he never bothered to learn more than only the most basic of French. I asked him about this after I had grown to know him well and his response was " I sign the checks. Thats the language they all understand!"  I didnt agree with his attitude about learning more of the language, but had to admit that he did have a valid point.
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 15, 2017 - 6:50am
Saint - 
 
If I may let me try to help your understanding as to why...
 
These are the same people, for the most part, who also subscribe to the idea that unqualified politicians and bureaucrats know best how our children are to be educated, how our healthcare should be delivered and how our money should be spent.  
 
This is a phenomenon I have witnessed in the corporate world as well. Very large companies are very top weighted in managers, all of whom are at least by title assigned areas of responsibility, but few if any actually have any authority over anything on their own. Decisions are taken by committee, thus absolving any individual from any consequences that may be the result of these decisions.
John Minehan Added Jul 15, 2017 - 7:08am
he real problem is the polarization; neither extreme can admit the other side has anything to say . . . .  
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jul 15, 2017 - 7:21am
John
 
Yep.
 
We brag 'bout directions
we think are the best
forget about others
just like fuck the rest
 
LOL
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jul 15, 2017 - 7:27am
TBH
 
" I sign the checks. Thats the language they all understand!"  
 
That may be enough on the business level in the West. But as soon as you get out of that sphere, say, you like to make business in South America or Africa or even China, you'll be lost. To be able to sign the checks there, you'll need a hell of a lot of time investing until you even get to DO business.
 
In Africa for example you won't make a deal before you don't know the whole family of your future business partner and have become friends....
Stone-Eater Friedli Added Jul 15, 2017 - 7:30am
BTW: You know it: When you speak several languages, even business relations become much easier. Because each language has its special feeling and expression, and when you master that, you'll be much more welcomed. Because then your opposite sees that you're making an effort.
John Minehan Added Jul 15, 2017 - 7:43am
"These are the same people, for the most part, who also subscribe to the idea that unqualified politicians and bureaucrats know best how our children are to be educated, how our healthcare should be delivered and how our money should be spent."
 
"Bureaucrats" are often very qualified in that narrow issue and politicians may have barely known the Bureaucrat's area of specialization existed before they ran for office.
 
That is why politicians are at a significant disadvantage as against bureaucrats and lobbyists.   
  
John Minehan Added Jul 15, 2017 - 7:45am
"Why anyone today would build an alter to someone so unaccomplished in the field he eventually became famous for is beyond me."
 
QED.
 
Think about it; it will come to you . . . .
John Minehan Added Jul 15, 2017 - 7:49am
"I asked him about this after I had grown to know him well and his response was " I sign the checks. Thats the language they all understand!"  I didnt agree with his attitude about learning more of the language, but had to admit that he did have a valid point."
 
But think about this, Quebec (like all of Canada) is bilingual. 
 
He spoke (as his native language) one of the two dominant languages.  Rather a different case than trying to do that in France or a Francophone country in Africa . . . .  
John Minehan Added Jul 15, 2017 - 7:51am
"Kelton, for impersonating an economist."
 
They all are; it's the nature of that field . . . .
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 15, 2017 - 8:48am
John -
 
you are correct about the language issue. I didnt say it was an opinion I agreed with, it was just an example from my experience came to mind. While you are right about Canada being bi-lingual, at least as a matter of law or public policy, I assure you that in many parts of Montreal if you don't speak french you are screwed. In other parts of the province it can be different, Hull for example, and Quebec City during the Winterfest. If you head up into the "bush" as they call it you could go hundreds of miles before you found anyone to speak english
The Burghal Hidage Added Jul 15, 2017 - 8:50am
he real problem is the polarization; neither extreme can admit the other side has anything to say . . . . 
 
John -
 
Everyone wants to have a debate, when what is needed is conversation. They are not the same.
John Minehan Added Jul 15, 2017 - 1:22pm
"Everyone wants to have a debate, when what is needed is conversation. They are not the same."
 
But there are not even having a debate, which would require you to consider the other side's arguments, if only to oppose them. 
Bill Kamps Added Jul 15, 2017 - 1:25pm
Stone, I dont know if you ever traveled here, but you would notice a profound disinterest in what goes on beyond our borders.  So yes, people can find out about things overseas, as I do, but you have to have an interest.  Most people live their lives withing 50 miles of their home, and the only time they travel is when they go on vacation.  Unless they have an international job, or they are rich, it is unlikely they will go overseas.  If they dont go there, why care ?  In Europe you have countries smaller than a lot of our states, so people naturally have a more international view. 
 
You see the effects of what our government does, but I dont think you appreciate who little the average US person knows or cares about it.   This is part of why it happens, who will tell them stop?
Jim Perlow Added Jul 15, 2017 - 2:13pm
The middle class, better known as the working class, the politically forgotten class, put DJT in the white house.  I also believe Russian involvement in the DNC was politically motivated to help Bernie Sanders, the only proclaimed Socialist, to win the democratic nomination.  HRC machine robbed him of what probably would have ended up being the current President of the United States.  Once this became clear, the spotlight on the corruption of the HRC machine persuaded enough people to vote for our current president.  The USA's role as the police force of the world, is as popular as being a police officer in any country.  They are always in the middle of where trouble is, meaning those who need protection love them, those who are causing the trouble hate them.  China is working hard to become the world cop.  Maybe they will do a better job than the British did when they had the job and the USA who currently is trying to find away out of the job.  DJT has stated, he did not run to be the President of the world, he ran to be the President of the USA.  Those condemning the USA better be careful of what they wish for, China will be an occupier, something the USA chose not to be.  Today Republicans and Democrats have become a blurred concept, with one common goal, power, money and being among the elite.
George N Romey Added Jul 15, 2017 - 2:43pm
Keynesian economics was useful to smooth out the rough spots in capitalism and help return the economy to full steam.  Keynes could have never imagined outsourcing, mass firings simply to pump up profits, asset bubbles, endless Federal Reserve illegal intervention, technology as we know it, etc.  The crash of 2008/2009 and the never lingering impact (despite the bogus unemployment numbers) was brought on by all these factors, and especially outrageous greed and cannot be fixed with old economic theory. Same can be said about Milton Friedman or Ayn Rand.  
 
However, I think we need a massive infrastructure program not only to restore real full employment and social mobility but to also ensure that this country will compete as the century unfolds. Second, I think we need a system of guaranteed employment and a rethinking of the "work week" because this condition will only become more problematic.  Part of that is shifting from public education that runs from ages 5 to 18 to lifetime public education to meet the demands of what will be never ending and quick change.
 
I get tired of hearing what our fore fathers wanted or the theory of some famed economist that lived decades or centuries ago.  The world has changed.  The world has gotten much more complicated and diverse than 1930s or 1950s economic theory.
 
Finally, fixing all of this doesn't seem to be happening without a major intervention in the form of some kind of major economic collapse.  Those benefiting are doing exceptionally well and they control the decision makers not just public but private as well.  Not until we see paper wealth destroyed (stock market, bond market, currency ) will there be much of a change in the direction.  Very sad that may well be the only way because lots of innocent people will get slaughtered in the process.
John G Added Jul 15, 2017 - 5:03pm
Keynes was just one of many. General Theory was an important but flawed work. It was important in that macroeconomics became a formalised discipline.
Personalised diatribes are no substitute for valid criticism of the issues.
The right wing culture warriors seem only capable of the former.
Saint George Added Jul 16, 2017 - 2:37am
General Theory was an important but flawed work.
 
Keynes had no Ph.D. in economics and never held a tenured professorship in economics.
 
Keynes was also bought and sold by the Fabian society headed by super-socialist-socialites Sidney and Beatrice Webb. While a member of their intellectually and morally corrupt ilk in the 1930s, Keynes also headed the Eugenics Society (from 1937-1944) promoting contraception in order to keep the common rabble from reproducing too much. He claimed that the working classes were too "drunken and ignorant" to keep their own numbers down, so the state (advised by people like Keynes, of course) would keep their numbers down for them.
 
According to writer Dennis Sewell in his book on the relation between eugenics and the left titled The Political Gene, the Fabians (including Keynes, and of course, G.B. Shaw) believed "that most of the behavioural traits that led to poverty were inherited. In short, that the poor were genetically inferior to the educated middle class."
 
In other words, the deeply held belief of Keynes, et al., was not that poverty had to be reduced or eliminated: it was the poor.
 
And this is the person to whom John G has built a little shrine.
 
If only Mama G and Papa G had heeded the advice of J.M. Keynes regarding contraception, good netizens would have been spared the tedium and hostility of their congenitally warped offspring.
John Minehan Added Jul 16, 2017 - 4:36pm
"It was important in that macroeconomics became a formalised discipline."
 
Most economists of my acquaintance, no matter where they stand politically, think it is also a fairly flawed discipline.  Think of Harry Truman's line about wanting to find a "one handed economist."
George N Romey Added Jul 16, 2017 - 4:55pm
There are economists like Richard Wolff that have admitted most people in his trade despite their Ivy League education and virtual plethora of charts, graphs, white papers and spreadsheets really don't know much more than the ordinary man.
Saint George Added Jul 16, 2017 - 5:39pm
Most economists of my acquaintance,
 
How many economists are you personally acquainted with?
 
 
 
think it is also a fairly flawed discipline
 
In what way(s) is the discipline flawed?
John Minehan Added Jul 16, 2017 - 6:10pm
At least 5 Ph.D.s.  A few old friends and several people I work with.
 
Most of them think Macro is basically not a discipline at all. 
Saint George Added Jul 16, 2017 - 8:01pm
Most of them think Macro is basically not a discipline at all. 
 
First you claim they said the discipline is flawed; now you claim they believe it's not a discipline at all. Which is it?
 
If it's not a discipline at all, it doesn't matter much whether it's flawed. On the other hand, if it's a flawed discipline, in what way(s) is it flawed?
John Minehan Added Jul 16, 2017 - 8:43pm
"First you claim they said the discipline is flawed; now you claim they believe it's not a discipline at all. Which is it?"
 
Wow, that may be the most inane argument I've ever heard.
Saint George Added Jul 16, 2017 - 10:04pm
Wow, that may be the most inane argument I've ever heard.
 
Why don't you just answer the question.
 
If it's a flawed discipline, why is it flawed?
 
If it's not even a discipline, then it's not a flawed discipline but a flawed-something-else. So what is it?
John G Added Jul 17, 2017 - 3:41am
LOLz. Corey and Minehan trading lies. Neither know what macro is.
John G Added Jul 17, 2017 - 3:47am
Romey. There are economists like Richard Wolff that have admitted most people in his trade despite their Ivy League education and virtual plethora of charts, graphs, white papers and spreadsheets really don't know much more than the ordinary man.
Whilst I agree with Wolff on this point, have no personal animosity and largely agree with his politics, I would have to include him in his own assessment.
He doesn't get macro or banking at all. He's like Krugman.
Saint George Added Jul 17, 2017 - 7:35pm
John G follows his ignorance down the old rabbit hole like Alice in Wonderland (in his case, however, it's more like "Adolf in Fatherland"). He thinks he knows macro because he looked at some books, but can't even tell us the meaning of its foundation, which is the national income tautology of Keynes:
 
GDP = C + I + G + (X — M)
 
MMT bases its monetary fantasies on that tautology. Once you understand how empty it is (like all tautologies), you'll understand how empty MMT is.