Mob rule
Posted by aogMonday, 06 April 2009 at 12:46 TrackBack Ping URL

Do you think President Obama’s pitch-fork remark will make him more of a hero to Mr. Eagar than former President Carter?

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joe shropshire Monday, 06 April 2009 at 20:07

Trolling our own blog again, eh?

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 06 April 2009 at 21:17

Sort of. I couldn’t believe even Obama, Chicago street thug, would say this in public. Did he learn nothing from Mayor Daley? And it reminded me of Eagar’s explanation that the rich should pay taxes because the alternative was being strung up from lampposts. Welcome to Obama’s America.

joe shropshire Monday, 06 April 2009 at 21:32

Okay then. We’ll just ignore you until you go away.

Andrew Duffin Tuesday, 07 April 2009 at 09:29

Did he actually say that?

It’s the entire ethos and worldview of the Statists in one short sentence.

In just eleven words, it provides the complete antithesis to Ronald Reagan’s famous “eight words” remark.

Bret Tuesday, 07 April 2009 at 10:16

It’s the Pitchfork Mob vs. John Galt. It’s lose-lose.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 07 April 2009 at 10:17

Yes, that’s a direct, literal quote of President Obama.

Bret Tuesday, 07 April 2009 at 12:05

This related article is a bit over-the-top but (I think) worth a read:

Harry Eagar Wednesday, 08 April 2009 at 07:57

You haven’t been reading Restating the Obvious. Obama is not my hero. Fact is, the most recent post endorses Andrew Rosenfield’s critique of Obama’s bank giveaway.

And I didn’t say bankers should be strubg up from lamppostrs, only that if they weren’t careful, they might be. My favored punishment, repeated several times, is that they should pay for the damage they did and be reduced to selling pencils from tin cups.

As RtO sometimes says, it isn’t easy to save capitalism from itself.

Anyhow, there oi 0 evidence that American vctims of capitalism are stockpiling pitchforks, but plenty of evidence that hysterical disbelievers in democracy are stockpiling firearms. One already shot 4 cops.

Get a grip.

joe shropshire Wednesday, 08 April 2009 at 09:06

So the answer to AOG’s question is: yes, yes he is; link to me; and shut your hysterical yap. Dear old Harry. I agree about the stockpiling. I’d been meaning to lay in a thousand rounds or so of .308 myself, and the stuff is now a dollar a round. Unbelievable. But that certainly ain’t on account of the mentally disordered.

Harry Eagar Wednesday, 08 April 2009 at 20:33

So you’re saying the proper response to losing an election is to shoot the winners?

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 09 April 2009 at 07:54

As RtO sometimes says, it isn’t easy to save capitalism from itself.

Most efforts at that resemeble a bad situation comedy plot, where the effort to “save” something ends up doing worse than just taking the hit in the first place. I suspect we’re seeing that in operation right now. The real failure is being unable to accept that reality isn’t perfect.

I also like the counter argument that, since people are not literally stockpiling pitchforks, we’re being hysterical for noticing the comment.

P.S. What Joe means is that the proper response to a dire situation is to prepare to defend yourself.

joe shropshire Thursday, 09 April 2009 at 09:23

What I mean is that the folks trudging off to Big 5 Sporting Goods to buy a case of whatever they can get while they can still get it, are as law-abiding as Harry is, and Harry knows it. He isn’t that dumb. Anyway, if you are offended that your guy inspires people to go trudging off to the gun store, then don’t elect that sort of guy anymore. That’s how democracy is supposed to work, isn’t it?

cjm Thursday, 09 April 2009 at 18:07

lee harvey, where are you when we really need you.

erp Friday, 10 April 2009 at 07:42

cjm, the last thing we need is another sainted martyr. We barely survived Kennedy’s aftermath.

The One and his policies need to be completely discredited.

Harry Eagar Friday, 10 April 2009 at 08:09

The guy who murdered the cops wasn’t law-abiding, but you guys will never acknowledge that he was part of your Narrative.

I have been vastly amused by the confluence of 3 posts at Volokh Conspiracy, one about the danger of unions, one about whether rightwing hysteria encourages cop-killing and one about what Joe calls stockpiling.

As a mere matter of American history (not that that forms any part of any of those 3 Narratives), one notes that since the Civil War, only one identifiable segment of the American public has ever actually taken up arms to resist government tyrrany (with the minor exception of the Siege of Athens, where, however, no shots were fired). It would not fit your narrative to name it.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 10 April 2009 at 08:33

The guy who murdered the cops wasn’t law-abiding, but you guys will never acknowledge that he was part of your Narrative.

Well, no, I fully acknowledge that. And so …? One might note that one of the laws he was not abiding was his ability to own guns. I would say that indicates that obvious absurdity of your policy recommendations but I can’t find any of the latter in this regard, only snark.

one notes that since the Civil War, only one identifiable segment of the American public has ever actually taken up arms to resist government tyrrany

And who here mentioned government tyrrany except you? Along with “hysterical disbelievers in democracy” you are confusing name calling with argumentation. And if you are going to mock our dedication to our Narrative, you might find it more effective to understand what that Narrative actually is rather than making one up and claiming it is ours.

joe shropshire Friday, 10 April 2009 at 22:22

I kill a policeman. I die shot down like a dog by his brother officers, or else in prison. I am a loser.

That is a narrative. Here is another.

I kill a policeman: not with my own hands, of course, I just order it done. I serve a token sentence. When I get out, I use my family connections to crawl off into the academy. While there I become a mentor to aimless, ambitious young men. I introduce them to big city politics. The years go by. Some of my words find their way into the zeitgeist: Guilty as sin. Free as a bird. It’s great country. One of my ambitious young men makes it big: I find that I am a kingmaker. I die in my own bed. I am a winner.

I don’t answer for my narrative, to anybody whose narrative sounds like yours.

joe shropshire Saturday, 11 April 2009 at 00:18

And by my count the American people, as a whole body, have taken up arms against tyranny four times at least since the Civil War. It’s almost like it’s what we do. So many calumnies, so little time.

Harry Eagar Saturday, 11 April 2009 at 07:35

At least Guy admits his narrative generates cop killers. Mine does not include Ayreses, so I’m clear.

own government, joe. The narrative here is about own government’s tyrrany.

Guy sorta did bring in tyrrany when he wrote that when a majority owner of a business demanded a management change it somehow amounted to ‘literal fascism.’ And you agreed it was.

I thought myself that it sounded more like, say, Kirk Kerkorian’s style, and nobody describes him as some kind of fascist.

Annoying Old Guy Saturday, 11 April 2009 at 14:58

My Narrative doesn’t “generate” cop killers, it acknowledges their existence, since my Narrative is congruent with objective reality and such people exist. Further, the only person who is putting “own government tyranny” in the Narrative is Mr. Eagar, not me, so it’s very unclear what his point is.

Guy sorta did bring in tyrrany when he wrote that when a majority owner of a business demanded a management change it somehow amounted to ‘literal fascism.’

When was that? If you mean Wagoner at General Motors, then you are completely confused. The federal government does not own any GM stock, much less can it be called a “majority owner”. But, that’s your Narrative which clearly is not congruent with objective reality.

Now, if the government where, in fact, a majority stock holder, I would call it “socialism”.

And of course, Kerkorian could not be legitimately described as fascist as he’s not a government actor.

This is all extra amusing because the post of mine you cite is about how words have actual meanings, and are not simply slurs to be heaved indiscriminately at others.

Harry Eagar Sunday, 12 April 2009 at 19:47

When you lend a business, oh, say, 30 billion dollars, and its market valuation is, say, 38 cents, then you get to call the shots. Nothing out of the ordinary about it. Or some of them. The bondholders now have the government over a barrel. Beggars can’t be chosers.

Bret Sunday, 12 April 2009 at 23:31

When you lend a business, oh, say, 30 billion dollars, and its market valuation is, say, 38 cents, then you…” are a complete blithering idiot.

Harry Eagar Monday, 13 April 2009 at 07:14

Well, yeah. But you get clout.

If the market value of the firm is essentially $0.00, then you’d think the stockholders would have demanded the exit of the management about $75BILLION earlier. But then we all know markets do not work, don’t we?

I got an idea. Why don’t we blame the workers? Who needs ‘em?

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 13 April 2009 at 08:00

Mr. Eagar;

I thought the rule was

If the bank loans you $4 million, the bank owns you. If the bank loans you $4 billion, you own the bank.

This seems another example of your style of making up a bunch of accusations, throwing them all, and seeing which ones stick. It betokens a lack of thoughtfulness, as it is a style well suited for fact free partisan contention rather than a discussion about reality. I think it stems for your Narrative being too strong, so you just read comments for keywords which trigger reflexive responses, rather than really reading what others write.

Yes, I think it’s a failure of the stock holders that the GM board wasn’t dumped long ago. But it’s hardly a market failure. Markets work like evolution, gradually and over time. You might as well claim evolution doesn’t work because some species go extinct due to maladaption.

erp Monday, 13 April 2009 at 08:08

”… bondholders now have the government over a barrel.” I wish.

HarryEagar Monday, 13 April 2009 at 13:45

Well, how long a time do I have to give them? GM has been mismanaged since before I entered the workforce fulltime in 1968. A solution that takes more than 41 years to take effect is no solution at all.

Of course it is a market failure. We are assured that markets self-correct. That better-managed companies outcompete weorse-managed ones.

I dunno. If I were you I would try the argument that the Nixon administration is responsible for GM’s failure. After all, it is a fact that around 1970 GM was managing sales to come in at no more than half the US market (and having no easy time of it) for fear that if it got too big it would be broken up.

Since I have worked for companies that were forced by their bankers to fire people, I thyinhjk I will stick to reality and contend that what the government did to Wagoner was common ordinary business practice, so common it never earns a comment, unless for purposes of partisan sniping.

I am non-partisan. I opposed and continue to oppose the policies put forth by both parties recently. So, I think,did you, but in your case the animus against one side far outweighs the mild chiding of the other.

erp, the vulture funds have scooped up enough GM debt (now subordinate, I believe) to force a bankruptcy unless the government rebuilds its rescue plan to give them extraordinary profits. That is, as with the New Deal, the rentiers are prepared to sabotage the policy of the elected government unless they are bribed off.

Nothing new there. Hamilton screwed the patriot soldiers and it’s been the policy of the rentiers to continue to sabotage public policy ever since.

That’s what you get when you let capital make decisions via markets. Some people think no better result could ever be attained.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 13 April 2009 at 15:57

A solution that takes more than 41 years to take effect is no solution at all.

Why not?

Beyond that, for what reason do you think that free markets have to fix GM in particular? In the very same comment you note “better-managed companies outcompete weorse-managed ones” from which follows that some companies are worse managed and fail. Yet your deduction from that is that GM shouldn’t fail, which is the exact opposite of the actual concept. We need only look at the last 41 years (your time frame) to see that, in fact, what you note is precisely what has occurred. There’s some twist you’re obviously applying to this logic sequence but I just cannot figure out what it is.

what the government did to Wagoner was common ordinary business practice

Nothing the government does is ever common ordinary business practice. It can’t be, because the government is not a business. When the government does that, it’s fascism (and I am glad to see you have conceded my point on that).

Also, banks can’t force a business to fire anyone. They can, in certain circumstances, cause the business to think firing is a better choice than having a loan called or failing to get further financing, but “forced” is not correct.

Moreover, I am wondering how this relates to your reply to erp, in which you claim that some other group of lenders, not the federal government, holds the trump cards with regard to GM. You’re already breaking your pledge to stick to reality.

That is, as with the New Deal, the rentiers are prepared to sabotage the policy of the elected government unless they are bribed off.

Of course, had the government not intervened in the first place, those despiscable rentiers would not have had any ability to enage in their sabotage. Hmmm, sabotage of goverment intervention in the economy as the tactics of rentiers … gosh, that sound familiars — where have I heard that kind of language before?

One might, of course, deduce a general principle from this, but then you’d be a free market type.

P.S.

I am non-partisan. I opposed and continue to oppose the policies put forth by both parties recently. So, I think,did you, but in your case the animus against one side far outweighs the mild chiding of the other.

The essence of non-partisanship is not to snipe equally at two sides. It is to have principles and hold to them regardless of what the political parties do. To strive for equal objection is to let the parties define what is important. Yes, I have far more animus for the Democratic Party than the GOP, because the former is far more destructive to my principles than the latter. You view this as a problem, but again I cannot figure out why.

Harry Eagar Wednesday, 15 April 2009 at 06:26

You keep talking about fascism. It’s a subject I’ve studied, and I cannhot figure out what in the world you mean when you use the word.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 15 April 2009 at 08:31

I mean this. Here is a key quote —

Fascism sought that control indirectly, through domination of nominally private owners. Where socialism nationalized property explicitly, fascism did so implicitly, by requiring owners to use their property in the “national interest”—that is, as the autocratic authority conceived it. (Nevertheless, a few industries were operated by the state.) Where socialism abolished all market relations outright, fascism left the appearance of market relations while planning all economic activities. Where socialism abolished money and prices, fascism controlled the monetary system and set all prices and wages politically.

As far as I can tell from my readings on the subject, this is the standard definition. Why don’t you reciprocate and tell us your definition of “fascism”.

cjm Wednesday, 15 April 2009 at 09:25

fascism, as classically defined, also contains an ethnic component. obama’s innovation is to invert this so that every ethnicity except caucasian is favored.

Bret Wednesday, 15 April 2009 at 17:56

Harry Eagar wrote: “A solution that takes more than 41 years to take effect is no solution at all.

It seems reasonable to me to give a company that has been very successful for a long period of time and has amassed a great deal of capital due to that success to be given an extended amount of time to get their act back together when the business climate changes. Especially when they are just spending down their shareholders (i.e. rich people’s) assets in the mean time.

What exactly should have been done 40 years ago? And by whom?

Harry Eagar Monday, 20 April 2009 at 21:05

Hmm. I don’t see anything in your definition of fascism where the state put money into private companies. By your definition the Alaska Railroad was, until recently, some sort of fascist deal, although I don’t recall a lot of carping about that.

Well, I don’t have any strong opinions about GM, except that if my money is going in, I want the management out. Don’t reward failure.

I picked 41 years because that is the length of time I have been following American business professionally, and my working lifetime is winding down. GM’s problems originated in ‘53 when it began choosing financial people instead of engineers as CEOs. More precisely, it began about 30 years earlier, when Chandler announced, ‘Gentlemen, we are not in business to make cars, we are in business to make money.’

Bad call.

Around 40 years ago, GM should have started competing with Toyota. It wasn’t the UAW that somehow forced management not to build an American Corolla. There were people at the time (notably the editor of Road & Track, an automotive engineer turned journalist) who kept telling Detroit that the fact that 25% of new car sales in California were Japanese makes was revealing something about the consumer.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 20 April 2009 at 21:36

I don’t see anything in your definition of fascism where the state put money into private companies.

It’s not my definition, it’s the common economics one, for which I provided a cite. Are you really just not capable of keeping such things straight for the amount of time it takes between noticing my comment and responding?

I also have no idea why you bring up the point of the state putting money into private companies. Would you say a person is not guilty of murder if he shoots someone with a gun and you didn’t see anything in the law about bullets?

By your definition the Alaska Railroad was, until recently, some sort of fascist deal, although I don’t recall a lot of carping about that.

I have no idea what the Alaska Railroad is / was. Clearly my failure to be aware of every single instance of government activity in the entire history of the USA will make me a hypocrite in your view.

I don’t have any strong opinions about GM, except that if my money is going in, I want the management out.

My recommendation has always been the simplest solution to that problem - don’t put government money in. You are the one who objects to that. If you say that the government should put money in and then control the company, that’s fascism, because the end goal is control and it is that control that the definition I cited points out is the essence of fascism.

I also note that you have not provided your definition of fascism yet. But given your inability to understand the definition I provided, or successfully apply to the issue at hand, I am starting to reconsider the utility of that request.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 21 April 2009 at 08:41

On the subject of control, see here for the government refusing re-payment of loans in order to retain the sort of control you are in favor of. What do you call that? To me, it demonstrates clearly what the actual goal is.

Harry Eagar Tuesday, 21 April 2009 at 17:42

Fascism’s economic program included, among a number of other things, conquest of colonial markets and autarky for basic produce (the “War for Wheat”). I don’t see either one of those in Obama’s policy. Just the reverse as far as autarky goes.

It isn’t that YOU didn’t carp about the ‘fascistic’ aspects of the government ownership of the Alaska Railroad. Nobody did. And lots of people, including everybody in Alaska, knew about it.

There isn’t a one-paragraph definition of fascism’s economic theory.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 21 April 2009 at 19:24

Mr. Eagar;

You’re trying to change the subject from this specific action to Obama’s entire economic program. I refuse your distraction.

Your point about the Alaska Railroad is that since some other unspecified set of people didn’t complain about it as fascism … well, what? Did you think it relevant or meaningful, or did it just work its way to the top of your rant list that morning? Is my behavior somehow affected or percieved differently based on the failure to complain of this shadowy “in the know” group?

There isn’t a one-paragraph definition of fascism’s economic theory.

Probably not, but if you can’t provide a one paragraph summary you might want to rethink your career choice. Or is this a deliberate “fine print” ploy?

joe shropshire Wednesday, 22 April 2009 at 02:20

There isn’t a one-paragraph definition of fascism’s economic theory. So far as I understand, here is a perfectly good five word definition of fascism, from Upton Sinclair: fascism is capitalism plus murder.

Or: fascism is business plus government.

Or, similarly: dysentary is drinking water plus sewage.

Pretty simple diagnosis that suggests some simple remedies. Keep the shitter two hundred yards down hill from the well. Keep the murder away from the capitalism. Keep the government away from business. Give it a try, who knows.

Harry Eagar Wednesday, 22 April 2009 at 13:50

Well, you are the one who decided that Obama was a literal fascist. I am still trying to match any of his actions with what I know about literal fascism.

It does seem to me that past US governments have directed businesses to do this or that without being described as literal fascists. There were people who thought that, as a matter of principle, the US government should not be an owner of the Alaska Railroad, and the government eventually divested, but this was not then described, even by the people who favored that course, as a victory for antifascism.

I am not the only one who finds it difficult to summarize fascism. It was not an especially coherent set of ideas. Denis Mack Smith, the preeminent historian writing in English about fascism, never managed to describe it in anything shorter than a 300-page book.

There was a literal fascist business ring in the United States, run by Generoso Pope Sr. His methods could be described briefly: Buy my cement or get your legs broken. But I don’t think Obama is using that method.

Annoying Old Guy Wednesday, 22 April 2009 at 14:19

Mr. Eagar;

you are the one who decided that Obama was a literal fascist

No. I stated that this specific action was literally fascist, and repeated that in my just previous comment. Could you let me know how many more times I will have to reiterate that we so can get it over with?

I think this is yet another example of you keyword mining instead of actually reading.

P.S. Further, as I noted in yet another previous comment outright ownership is not fascism, so if the federal did in fact own Alaska Railroad, that’s not a good example (I have to qualify this because in this very string you confused being a lender with being an owner so it’s hard to know what you really mean).

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