Using New Emergency Financial Manager Law, They Start Dissolving Governments in Michigan

In what is likely to be just the first of several dissolutions of democratically elected city governments and school boards in Michigan, the Emergency Financial Manager of Benton Harbor, Joseph Harris, just took away all authority from the city’s elected government.

I, Joseph L. Harris, the duly appointed Emergency Manager for the City of Benton Harbor, Michigan (the “City”), pursuant to the power and authority granted by Act 4 of the Public Acts of Michigan of 2011, being MCL 141.1501 et seq (the “Act”), do hereby resolve and order as follows:

WHEREAS, Section 19(ee) provides that the Emergency Manager may exercise any power or authority of any office, employee, department, board, commission or similar entity of the City, whether elected or appointed;

WHEREAS, the power of the Emergency Manager as set forth in Section 19(ee) of the Act is superior to and supersedes any such officer or entity; and

WHEREAS, now, no City Board, Commission or Authority has authority or power to act on behalf of the City as provided in the Act.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED AS FOLLOWS:

1. Absent prior express written authorization and approval by the Emergency Manager, no City Board, Commission or Authority shall take any action for or on behalf of the City whatsoever other than:

i) Call a meeting to order.

ii) Approve of meeting minutes.

iii) Adjourn a meeting.

2. That all prior resolutions, or acts of any kind of the City in conflict herewith are and the same shall be, to the extent of such conflict, rescinded.

3. This order shall be effective immediately.

Harris, the former Auditor of Detroit, was appointed last year under the Granholm administration. After Harris cut cops and firemen last year, local residents started talking about firing him.

There are two things it helps to know about Benton Harbor. First, it has long been almost entirely dependent on Whirlpool for jobs. And as Whirlpool moved manufacturing out of state and country, its operations in the city have shifted from manufacturing to call center and resort work.

Just about all the cities that have EFMs now–along with Benton Harbor, Pontiac, Ecorse and Detroit’s schools–or have had EFMs–Hamtramck, Highland Park, Flint, and Three Oaks–have been gutted by the shift of manufacturing under globalization.

But Benton Harbor is particularly notable because of how segregated it is. Here’s how CSM described the segregation in a 2003 report on race riots in Benton Harbor (note, the boundary between Benton Harbor and St. Joseph is the river you can see in the map above).

On one side lies St. Joseph, an Eden-like beach town, brimming with barbered lawns, boutique coffee shops, and summer art festivals. Cross to Benton Harbor, and everything changes. White becomes black, and affluence turns to poverty. Frustrated residents sit on sagging stoops and walk by boarded-up businesses.

When Benton Harbor erupted in violence this week, the trigger was ostensibly a high-speed police chase through a residential neighborhood. It was the second such pursuit in three years, and the second to result in the death of a young black.

But as with most riots, this is a story that goes much deeper than the immediate event that lit the fuse. It’s about years of pent-up frustration over that gulf that separates Benton Harbor from St. Joseph. Over the sense most Benton Harbor residents have that a fair trial is impossible in Berrien County, which encompasses both towns, and that the police force engages in practices – like high-speed chases – that would be unheard of across the river. Over the accumulated anger of being pulled over by cops too often, of having job applications rejected before they were glanced at, of the assumptions that if you live in Benton Harbor, you must be a drug dealer, a criminal, a drop-out.

[snip]

The town of 11,000 is 92 percent black. Federal figures show that the average income is $17,000 a year.

By contrast, St. Joseph (population 8,800) is 90 percent white. Bustling with clothiers and cafes, its average unemployment rate last year was below 2 percent. Indeed, most of Berrien County is white, conservative, and affluent.

Now, Harris is black, and the other cities with EFMs aren’t as segregated (Pontiac is 39% white and 48% African American and Ecorse is 52% white and 40% African American, though Detroit is 12% white and 81% African American).

But it is rather telling that the first city in MI to have its democracy taken away under Rick Snyder’s EFM law is one that has long suffered under both globalization and racism. Rather than finding real solutions to those long-festering problems, we’re just going to shut it down.

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  1. orionATL says:

    i cannot believe that the citizens of any state would support or tolerate such a law

    or allow such state gov intrusion in their lives.

    • emptywheel says:

      It’s hard to explain how beaten down people in MI are.

      When this EFM thing first bubbled up, most people didn’t pay attention because we’re used to EFMs. Yeah, it usually happens with a big fight between the state and the city, but we’re used to it and equally at a loss on how to fix the problems created by globalization.

      So it really took the national attention–the rest of the country telling us how whacked this is–to really get that the changes are significant.

      And I think the fact that this mostly happens to predominantly black towns is one of the reasons why it didn’t get more attention in the state–racism, but also the media undercovering it.

      That said, the other changes Snyder pushed were equally as troubling.

  2. emptywheel says:

    Or to put it another way, what probbaly needed to happen a decade ago, when Gov Englers tax cuts gutted the state but before we got into Depression-like status in MI, is for the state to come together to figure out a way to address the effects of globalization as a whole. To be fair, Granholm did shift the focus of our economy (but Snyder has already started rolling back that, ending film subsidies and shifting away from alternative energy back to coal).

    But that state-level approach to solutions was hurt by the type of conservative we have here, as well as a racially based disinterest in having the state invest a lot to save Detroit and towns like Benton Harbor.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Michigan, like Wisconsin, is a test case for managing disaster capitalism on a large scale. The PTB know such skills will be needed, just as will be more and better tasers, sonic cannon and other toys. Good paying jobs, lifetime careers, wholesome neighborhoods and whole family lives aren’t coming back. Revenge may be best when served cold; “sacrifice” is best when someone else does it.

      Ann Arbor, Birmingham, and the resorts in the mitten’s NW won’t need this treatment. Most cities and towns will.

  3. Knut says:

    So in effect the city of Benton Harbor has been placed under state trusteeship. This is going to turn out badly, because the state does not have the resources to administer municipalities at the level of required detail. I suppose the big question is whether it has the authority to imposes taxes at that level.

    • emptywheel says:

      It already had that authority (remember, Benton Harbor got this EFM last year). The nitty gritty management is done by the EFM, who in this case has some financial background to at least balance the budget (which is what the focus on this has been). The new powers give the EFM greater authority to bypass the democratically elected govts, and with it to make further cuts.

      As far as taxes, my understanding is that MI funds heavily from property taxes (our state taxes are regressive). But obviously, w/an average income of $17000 in BH, there’s not much to tax. And the state is so desperate to keep what presence Whirlpool does have that they don’t want to tax the one viable entity in the town.

  4. AppleCanyon2 says:

    Good morning Emptywheel,

    It is my understanding that Snyder can be recalled in July or am I smoking dope?

    If it is a possibility, is there any action in that direction? Wisconsin has set the tone for an uprising, can Michigan follow through or as you say are they “too beaten down” to try to remove this guy?

    Thank you for answering all the questions.

  5. AppleCanyon2 says:

    Thank you. I was hopeful that something could be done.

    I have a daughter and son living just north of Grand Rapids and I am going to ask her what her opinion is. Like me she leans D but is an Independent while her husband was raised in Michigan and is a stong R. I am going to ask him how he feels on this tactic without causing any arguements.

    • emptywheel says:

      The DeVos/Secchia contingent in Grand Rapids are floating a similar idea for GR, not pushed by budget deficit but just to make things easier. It’s unclear whether they’ll push it this year or next.

      (I’m sketchy on this, but I’m planning on figuring it out once I moved to GR next week.)

      • AppleCanyon2 says:

        Best wishes on your move. The kids love the area around Grand Rapids.

        You will be in on the ground floor of any DeVos/Secchia attempts to do the same thing in that area.

        • emptywheel says:

          Yup. BUt we’ll be downtown, which will be a lot of fun. I am badly looking forward to living in a place where I can walk from place to place again.

  6. KrisAinCA says:

    Harris = Mubarak?

    Where did our democracy go? Democratically elected leadership can be pushed aside on a whim and people are supposed to submit to being governed by an appointed figurehead?

    Oh wait. There’s precedent. Florida circa 2000.

  7. 1970cs says:

    It seems this comes down to who controls the money, and how it will be spent. This puts a lot of pressure on the city government, the State can decree all it wants from the capitol, but how that translates to the local municipal employees slow walking things they object to is another.

  8. allan says:

    And as Whirlpool moved manufacturing out of state and country, its operations in the city have shifted from manufacturing to call center and resort work.

    Slightly OT, but it would be irresponsible not to recall the devastating effect that Whirlpool’s earlier takeover of Maytag had on Newton, Iowa.

      • Starbuck says:

        Hi,AitchD.

        Sigh! I wish mine was that old and still running! But it’s not a Dynaco, it’s a prebuilt NAD.

        Your screen name reminds me of the abbreviation for Planck’s constant_ Aitch Bar.

        • AitchD says:

          Last year I had my 25-year-old NAD 2400 amp repaired and brought back to spec ($340).

          I chose my screen name back in the day when everyone was all, they were all like being cool saying hi def for high definition or saying ‘HD’, while they held their breath to see if HD-DVD or Blue-Ray would prevail. I also considered the screen name Blew-Wreigh.

  9. donbacon says:

    to figure out a way to address the effects of globalization as a whole

    There is not only in Michigan but everywhere a general lack of interest in (1) recognizing the reality of globalization and (2) developing proper individual responses to it. On FDL and other sites the phenomenon is treated like a cyclic recession, to be addressed with stimulus from taxpayers (a contradiction), union activity and railing at corrupt officials and bankers.

    The problem of globalization is real and pervasive, and requires a more intelligent response. The first factor to recognize is that globalization is being promoted by the federal government because it promotes corporate profitability. This promotion is done via U.S. embassies and USAID, etc. It’s a fact of life, unfortunately. It’s where the money is.

    The U.S. is now entering a post-industrial era, where entrepreneurship and self-driven initiative will be more important. I commented on this recently on a FDL thread and got attacked for it, particularly from dakine01. It’s jobs they want! Jobs! You’re calling us lazy! But those jobs don’t exist any longer.

    Education. Sitting in a classroom being trained to deliver the school solution and pass a standard test doesn’t cut it any more. People need to learn how to think for themselves and be creative. When one has no possibility of employment, one must look around for needs to be filled, at a profit, and get to work providing a product or a service that other people need, and not be bitching and moaning that the government isn’t doing enough for them.

    Racism. There is now more school and housing segregation (they go together) than there was in the sixties, when the problem was addressed with riots and legislation. It needs to be addressed.

    I could go on, but I won’t. You catch my drift, I hope.

    • emptywheel says:

      Actually, the US is probably going to move from what you call post-industrial back to more industrial focus–or should, if the US knew what’s good for it. That’s partly bc manufacturing is changing (meaning more customization) and partly bc we’re slowly beginning to account for the externalities of globalizations and partly bc corporations are discovering that outsourcing to China is only good for so many years before the Chinese start asking for liveable wages too. Also, the govt has realized we cant have the best military machine anymore at the rate we’re losing manufacturing capabilities.

      And the bigger reason why the US government–as opposed to US corporations–push globalization is because of the role it has come to play in our hegemonic control of the world. But since we’re losing that position, the govt will have less of an incentive to do so.

      Obviously, the incentives for corporations are entirely different. But the badmouthing of banksters is an important part of that, because until we recognize 1) how stupid the financialization of our economy is and 2) how legalized money laundering is at the heart of that, we won’t have political will to shift away from it.

      As to your “stimulus from taxpayers” issue: what I, at least, ask for is the US to be honest about why China and other countries have succeeded (in addition to wages and limited regulations): mercantilism. How are we going to succeed against a country that dumps lots of money into its companies if we don’t ourselves?

      We need some smart investment in this country, and we need to make sure we don’t just give away the fruits of that investment (as we currently do with pharma development).

      • PJEvans says:

        They’ve also been finding out that putting most of your activities in a time zone that’s many hours removed from management makes things much more difficult. Call centers need to be close to customers; programmers need to be close to the people they work with. (It’s bad enough when the call center is three or four hours off, and doesn’t have a script for the stuff you’re most likely to need help with.)

      • donbacon says:

        Actually, the US is probably going to move from what you call post-industrial back to more industrial focus–or should, if the US knew what’s good for it.

        This might be possible in some distant time but in the near future the economic growth and the industrialization is elsewhere.
        news report, Apr 15

        As part of its expansion in the fast-growing Asian market, US automaker Ford Motor Co. plans to introduce 15 new vehicles in China by 2015. The company also plans to increase the number of dealerships it has in China to twice the number (340 presently) by 2015, and also double the work force to 1,200 people by the same year.

        Of the 15 new cars, the first one to be introduced in the world’s largest auto market will be the all-new Ford Focus Compact. According to a statement issued by the company, production of the car will commence in 2012 at Ford’s new $490 million plant in Chongging. The facility is said to have a capacity of 150,000 units.

        (end)

        And the bigger reason why the US government–as opposed to US corporations–push globalization is because of the role it has come to play in our hegemonic control of the world.

        Control is part of it but them major driver is to increase corporate profits. The U.S. embassies, particularly the ambassadors themselves, together with their commerce desks work closely with the local American Chambers using USAID taxpayer funds to help U.S. corporations expand their investment and employment base to countries near and far.

        How are we going to succeed against a country that dumps lots of money into its companies if we don’t ourselves?

        What I am suggesting is not the China model but the model that made the U.S. great — individual initiative and entrepreneurship. According to a recent survey it is the start-up companies that provide the most jobs per company. They have been stifled recently because of the bursting of the housing bubble (no more housing ATM) and a lessening of credit in general, so yes provide loans to get people started on their business ideas. The people are the key, not the money. That’s necessary now. But don’t “dump lots of money etc.” because that would be corrupted, as it is already.

        We need some smart investment in this country, and we need to make sure we don’t just give away the fruits of that investment

        Yes. Invest in American initiative and ingenuity, it has been the best in the world and it can be again. But the problem can’t be cured with road and bridge contracts and better union contracts. It didn’t work under FDR and it won’t work now.

        Finally, let’s get personal. How did Jane Hamsher and Marcy Wheeler become successful, by complaining or by doing?

        Finally, finally, thanks for responding. Now I’ll move on to the comment-limited guy that could only say “bullshit,” always the sign of someone who is unable to address the issues.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            The WPA was far too constructive a response to a national emergency, and it spread its helping hands far too low on the social ladder. At least that’s what those who have opposed Social Security, the SEC and other FDR initiatives have contended since their inception.

            • Starbuck says:

              The snowball effect is readable to all that can read. I must assume those to whom you refer cannot even read English, let alone between the lines!
              /s

          • donbacon says:

            No question, the WPA and the CCC did some fine work, and for the really down-and-out they could provide occupational help and beneficial results again today, if the politicians were willing. But these agencies did not pull the U.S. out of the depression, the war did.

            • Starbuck says:

              Yes, but we don’t know what might have happened had the war not intervened. That thread is gone.

              Of course, FDR and others were well aware of the events happening on both sides of the ocean not to have been cognizant of probable outcomes. Even then.

              My dad became builder after he participated in WPA projects which helped him hone his skills as a carpenter. He went to work first with the predecessor of the CTA in Chicago, then known as the Surface Lines IIRC. He grew disgusted with working for a boss, built us a home outside Chicago and went on to build up about 1/2 of a community, also outside Chicago, with only himself as builder and a colleague as the realtor. This after the war of course.

              • donbacon says:

                Your dad is the kind of guy (occupation-wise anyhow) that anyone would admire. He didn’t like working for someone else, and so he saw a need and filled it.

        • emptywheel says:

          Uh, yeah, remember I used to work in the auto industry? I’m aware that China, unlike the US, is a growing consumer market.

          But even to supply US consumers, they’re going to be moving some production back here (and, bc of the lesson of the earthquake in Japan) adding some redundancy back in supply chain.

          As for the US pushing our corporations? That won’t last all that long. Aside from IP things–GM tech, drugs, films, etc–and for military, there’s increasingly less reason for us to push our companies down other countries’ throats bc it doesn’t benefit the US in the least: the profits have been off-shored to the Cayman Islands, and the manufacture won’t be done here. Moreover, as we grow weaker other countries are going to be less and less interested in playing by our IP rules, so even pushing IP products will have limited upside going forward.

          As for this cute notion we’re going to return back to what “made the US great,” not gonna work.

          Not gonna work because your myth about the role of ingenuity–as opposed to selective protectionism and wars–was always a myth. But because we no longer enjoy the advantages we did then (large captive market, balance of Ag and industry, ability to pick and choose how and what wars we wage), but other countries have those advantages in much greater amount. We still have superb immigrants (though in lesser numbers), but the bigots in teh country want to turn that off too. Plus, the rules globally have changed. Maybe you’re gung ho to play this game by spotting your competition 20 points to start, but I’m not.

          POint is, we can move forward by spouting myth, or we can move forward by being realistic about the rules of the game now (as opposed to 60 years ago), what we need as a counrtry to survive, and the multinational structure of corporations. You’re not doing the latter.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            Excellent point about the role of American ingenuity. The myths exclude its costs.

            In the 19th century, Americans were a font of ingenuity. They invented like no other: the cotton gin, reapers, bailers; the telegraph and telephone; oil and refining, transporting and marketing it; electrical generation, transmission and use. The list is almost endless. So, too, are the unscrupulous practices that made a few men rich and a lot of men poorer.

            Edison, for example, invented several remarkably useful things, along with quite a few (concrete houses and furniture) that went nowhere. His staff invented thousands. He stole ideas and claimed them for himself. He was as unscrupulous as Rockefeller in driving out competitors. He lied whenever it was opportune: a famous early demonstration of his electric lights in lower Manhattan was made using disguised oil lamps, not light bulbs.

            The marketing methods used to sell power plants and their energy around the world rivaled those used to sell tobacco. He hid the dangers and poisons generated by his businesses. GE’s decades-long denials about the dangers of PCB’s dumped into the Hudson is only a continuation of his earlier hiding of the risks of electrocution and mercury poisoning.

            Edison was a phenomenal organizer and marketeer, and a stellar example of the behavior that made the first and this second Gilded Age possible. Similar and worse behavior could be cited about the founders of the telegraph, the telephone (barring Bell himself), oil, steel, mining, railroads, newspapers and cars.

            America is as ingenious in devising ruthless business practices as it is in coming up with new things and good ideas. Only the latter make it into most history books. As was said about by the Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, when the myth becomes legend, print the myth.

          • donbacon says:

            The U.S. economy is growing at 1-2%, and will be fortunate to sustain that as spending decreases at all levels of government and corporations move overseas. They are moving overseas because that’s where the GDP growth is, 8-10%. Those are the rules of the game now.

            What hasn’t changed, and what I put my faith in, is the capability of Americans to make something out of nothing. Ingenuity. Entrepreneurship. Summarized by the SBA numbers I placed above. Possibly no other country beats Americans at small business start-ups, I don’t know, but the Chinese and some others are pretty good at it. Anyhow, the role of ingenuity was never a myth as you claim. The evidence is all around us, in the design and manufacture of all the things we use and enjoy.

            And they needn’t all come from large corporations, indeed they can’t any more. We may buy things from General Electric or Whirlpool but they probably weren’t designed or manufactured or (tech supported) in the U.S.

            Thoreau: “I came into this world, not chiefly to make this a good place to live in, but to live in it, be it good or bad.”

            We have to play the hand that’s dealt, which means no guaranteed employment and a corresponding need to self-employ. Find a need and fill it, that’s the ticket. Fighting for the good old days of unionized corporate employment is a waste of time.

            • emptywheel says:

              I’m not saying American ingenuity is a myth. I’m saying it’s a myth that that’s what resulted in our global dominance. There were a lot of other factors that, in parallel fashion, are key to China’s and–to an even greater degree–Brazil’s success right now.

              Also, I don’t disagree with you about the importance of small businesses. It’s on the multinational businesses where I think we disagree. Ford is HQed in the US, sure. But it’s a multinational company now, which means the primary benefit it offers the US anymore is to the declining extent it employs engineers/designers and, to a much lower degree, line workers anymore. But that’s not all that much bc so much of it has been outsourced; even the engineering has been increasingly outsourced (Mexican engineers work for a fraction of the cost as US ones). And Ford is far more of a US company anymore than GM (or, for example, Boeing) is, though the govt has a huge interest in subsidizing Boeing to keep some indigenous aviation skills here.

              So while it’s true the US pimps our corporations, in many cases they’re doing so when there’s little national interest in doing so. Now if we, like the Chinese and Koreans, made sure there were incentives to producing locally, then big corporations would have more to offer us–but this is precisely teh kind of policy I’m advocating which you’re opposed to. And this is increasingly become a security issue, not just because we’re beginning to lose capabilities that we need to run critical functions, but bc we’re relying on components from other countries that are either shoddy or hard-wired to provide a back door.

              So, yes, small companies are where the future of the US has to be. But that still relies on getting funding from old-style banks, but our banks aren’t old-style banks anymore. They’d rather take their free govt-provided money and churn it w/pyramid and ponzi schemes than actually take the smaller profits you get from lending to support ingenuity. That’s why it is absolutely appropriate to beat up on the banksters. They don’t serve their societal purpose anymore and cause a great deal of harm.

              Ultimately, though, our globe is close enough to a massive catastrophe (of which climate change is only the most obviously example) that we really need to build more localized, resilient economy now if we want to survive in the medium term. Which is another reason not to put our eggs into the multinational corporation basket: their production processes are not that resilient (as the global shutdowns in some products arising from the Japanese earthquake made clear).

            • Phoenix Woman says:

              1) The good jobs went away because American CEOs don’t give a shit about America — they would rather pay themselves outrageously high compensation while exploiting and poisoning foreign workers and polluting their land, air and water. They can’t keep that up much longer as the workers in these places are demanding better wages and noticing just how much the factories these Americans have built have been destroying their bodies as well as their land, air and water.

              Furthermore, the rise in oil prices means a rise in container-barge shipment costs. In 2005, it cost only $2000 to ship a typical container, of the sort that can be offloaded from a barge and attached to an 18-wheeled truck, from China to the US. It’s more like $9000 now. This means that cars, appliances, furniture and other large big-ticket items are more profitable if made in the same country where they’re sold; Thomasville’s reopened its US furniture factories for that reason.

              Once American CEOs realize their free ride is over and they have to a) stop ripping off their own firms by giving themselves obscene wages and compensation, b) stop polluting everywhere, not just in the US, c) realize that container shipping costs will only get higher with time as the oil runs out, and d) admit they can’t keep paying slave wages either in or out of the US, then the good jobs will come back.

              2) Tax cuts have been commonplace since the late 1990s at both Federal and state levels. Yet the businesses that benefitted from these tax cuts didn’t respond by building more factories and hiring more workers. If they had, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

              • donbacon says:

                Corporations are in business to make a profit, not for benevolent social reasons. This is a capitalistic country and there is no change in sight. I didn’t construct the system, nor did you, we may not like it, but it’s the way it is.

                Our job is, yes, try to change it, but at the same time realize that the probability of change is low and so we should adapt to the reality of what is and not live in a make-believe world.

                • jdmckay0 says:

                  Corporations are in business to make a profit, not for benevolent social reasons.

                  Well, that’s what they say. And make a profit they do, regardless of whether they deliver quality.

                  Which is the whole problem, really.

                  Make more money, deliver less value. Or, often, convince “consumers” they need stuff they don’t need. Like MacMuffins & taco bell poison.

                  You comment… “in business to make money”, is the precise statement I’ve read, over & over for years on WSJ OpED letters by these anonymous yahoos in business to “make money”, but never… ever, do they talk about what it is they actually do.

                  What we have, currently, is a greater % of crooks “making money”, for a while now. In suits.

                  Please, tell me something more fundamental then “in business to make money.” Please.

                  • PJEvans says:

                    I have friends who tell me that if you want to make money in business, and that’s your only reason to go into business, then you should becom a drug dealer. (For less than a year. More than that and they’re more likely to catch up with you.)
                    Most people go into business because they have an interest or a hobby that people will pay for. I know one guy who had a used bookstore for many years, apparently quite successful. (He retired last year, at least from brick-and-mortar business.) It started as a hobby (he was a programmer)….

                    • jdmckay0 says:

                      I know many such people as well (I’m programmer, now have a SAAB c900 restoration biz), and applaud them.

                      What I’m getting at, however, is basically unmet (and largely undiscussed) needs… just for human survival. Populations growing almost exponentionally. Emerged former emerging countries… eg: much more demand for fewer resources. Water, energy, food… all this stuff driven by (mostly) profit, w/available knowledge wrt doing all that stuff sooooo much better going entirely ignored.

                      EG. “not economically” feasable. Like melting the polar ice cap is good economics.

                      We need big leaps in smart, and lots of it. Smart means honest inventory of things, and given challenges, like I said… we need lots of it. What we’ve got, unfortunately, is an inversely representative mass of stupid and corrupt.

                      Evidence abounds.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Corporations will eventually realize and adapt to those changes; top managers often will not. As with adapting to changes in scientific knowledge – acceptance of evolution is a classic example – it will happen slowly, as individual managers and their preferred viewpoints and practices leave the scene.

                That means adaptations here may well lag changes elsewhere, requiring us to work harder to stay in place. Regardless, there’s really no other choice.

        • PJEvans says:

          individual initiative and entrepreneurship

          I’d like to introduce you to some of my friends, who have been trying that for the last several years. Monday they’re talking to a bankruptcy lawyer.

          Care to explain how ‘individual initiative and entrepreneurship’ works when businesses aren’t interested in dealing with you?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Thank you. China, like those in Europe, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, India, ad nauseum, has an explicit economic policy and works hard and long to implement.

        The US puts its effort into hiding its economic policy. We claim we don’t have or need one. We claim that fictitiously productive market forces will cure what needs fixin’. In reality, those unrestrained market forces, like a fast-moving water course that has breached its banks, are causing much of the damage.

        Ours is an unspoken economic policy. It aims is to assist corporations rather than individuals – instead of balancing their claims. It involves privatizing gain and socializing cost. It is built on narrowing and lowering the base of people who pay for such costs. It is increasingly secretive, militaristic and authoritarian rather than open consensual and participatory. It relies on control instead of improvement, mutuality of effort and shared gain.

      • jdmckay0 says:

        Actually, the US is probably going to move from what you call post-industrial back to more industrial focus–or should, if the US knew what’s good for it.

        Maybe, I’m not so sure, but… AFAIC it’s not clear we’re moving anywhere, in any intelligent fashion, period.

        I think (I’ve said much, so I’ll be brief) we need first an accounting of things… basic human needs (clean air/water), energy (we could be doing soooo much more right now), and particularly, how/where money flows. Or in other words, honest assessment answering the question: what is value.

        Currently, those getting the money are not delivering the value (sucking it up, really), while also directing economic activity.

        US public just too misinformed, w/too many powerful people working overtime to keep ’em that way.

        That’s partly bc manufacturing is changing (meaning more customization) and partly bc we’re slowly beginning to account for the externalities of globalizations

        Well, we’re real late to that wake up call… real late. And when you say “slowly”, well, if anything that term overstates the awakening.

        and partly bc corporations are discovering that outsourcing to China is only good for so many years before the Chinese start asking for liveable wages too.

        This one ties to value(s): eventuality of phenomena you describe was argued before congress a number of times (all dems) in late 90’s, shot down by repubs and hardly made media notice whatsoever.

        It’s just common sense. It’s also moral. And it’s part & parcel of the moral void which directed this then, and which will suck every last mega-dime from the arrangement before “changing”, no matter what the cost to others.

        Also, the govt has realized we cant have the best military machine anymore at the rate we’re losing manufacturing capabilities.

        Kind’a reminds of Soviet collapse, no?

    • billthechowchow says:

      There is not only in Michigan but everywhere a general lack of interest in (1) recognizing the reality of globalization and (2) developing proper individual responses to it. On FDL and other sites the phenomenon is treated like a cyclic recession, to be addressed with stimulus from taxpayers (a contradiction), union activity and railing at corrupt officials and bankers.

      The problem of globalization is real and pervasive, and requires a more intelligent response. The first factor to recognize is that globalization is being promoted by the federal government because it promotes corporate profitability. This promotion is done via U.S. embassies and USAID, etc. It’s a fact of life, unfortunately. It’s where the money is.

      I catch your drift. One problem is everybody bitches about buying crap from Walmart and refuses to shop there, but then they buy those same items second-hand from a thrift store. No one is interested/has the aspiration (has the capital?) to start his/her own company manufacturing those items here again. Local manufacturing could be the base of and resurrect the Main Street economy (especially factoring in recycled materials and creativity/ingenuity, see, e.g., some entrepenurial Vermonters selling wallets made from tape cassettes). Local agriculture could supplant (pun obviously intended) Monsanto. Call it Commie pinko thinking, but it would take a collective effort to reject what’s being sold to us and replace it with what we can make and sell to ourselves.

      And, just a thought, but reading about the massive solar power projects designed to be located out in the desert – disrupting wildlife habitats and migration routes – and currently being marketed to venture capitalists, is the primary reason so that these units can be owned by a particular entity and the goal is generation of revenue as opposed to clean energy? Cannot the same amount of energy be produced by adding solar panels/other photovoltaic technology to as many existing structures (residences and commercial or public buildings) in urban/suburban locales as possible, the only difference being that no particular entity gets to collect utility fees beyond the installation and maintenance, which if distributed evenly between the recipients of this power over time would seem to be neglible?

      • Starbuck says:

        Yes, of course, nonetheless, solar efficiency and minimizing the need for energy storage devices, which take a great deal of energy to manufacture ship and install, dictates the consideration of panel location.

        At any rate, solar can only account for a tiny fraction of the total energy needs from a global perspective.

        I’m looking for an article about a real thinker out side this box I read recently. Forgot to save the link! (Grrr!)

        • billthechowchow says:

          Yes, I disagree about DB’s opinion of the WPA. We need our public dollars to make our public spaces safe and pleasurable and to create jobs so more people have money to enjoy our public spaces and the MOTU have less money to engage in perpetual combat. I wholeheartedly agree with DB about USAID. The US MOTU use it the same way the multinational MOTU use the IMF. And, a couple of years ago, USAID caused the shuttering of a condom factory in Alambama because they could get condoms 3 cents cheaper from a Chinese factory – saving US taxpayers that 3 cents a condom but costing 300 Alabamans their jobs. Regarding the costs of production and shipping of solar panels, last year after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, I had many discussions with coastal residents who wanted more GOM drilling because of the jobs. My outside-the-box (as limited as it is) alternative was to replace those Gulf Coast oil rig jobs with solar panel/wind turbine factory/installation/maintenance jobs. To my chagrin, apparently my suggestions weren’t embraced. Our country has the resources (in every sense of the word) to be self-sufficient. I admit my notions are quixotic, but if we chose to define our Main Street economy, we can redefine globalization to terms of fair trade as well.

        • PJEvans says:

          They should be – and in some cases are – more worried about the transmission lines needed to get electricity from the big solar arrays out in the back country (desert, wherever) to the cities where the power is mostly used.
          That’s why I think installing solar panels on every available building in urban areas would help. Granted, it won’t help in the winter in some place that’s either dark or under snow most of the time – but it will help.

          • john in sacramento says:

            … That’s why I think installing solar panels on every available building in urban areas would help. Granted, it won’t help in the winter in some place that’s either dark or under snow most of the time – but it will help.

            Totally. Every state should have a Solar Initiative

            Join the thousands of home and business owners who have earned cash back rebates by installing solar energy systems through the California Solar Initiative. Customers earn cash rebates for every watt of solar energy installed on homes, businesses, farms, schools, and government and non-profit organizations.

            http://www.gosolarcalifornia.ca.gov/csi/index.php

        • jdmckay0 says:

          At any rate, solar can only account for a tiny fraction of the total energy needs from a global perspective.

          Not so. Sun provides the earth, in 24 hrs., all our energy needs for a month.

          There are other very good sources, and some we don’t hear about (still on drawing board), nevertheless solar is/can be huge component of mission-critical-shift to efficient, smart energy.

          • Starbuck says:

            Well, I finally got back here, and my response to jd is the problem isn’t the amount of sun the problem is storing the energy so that you can run 24 hrs on less than 24 hrs of sunlight. It’s not going to be batteries because batteries cannot provide the energy density necessary to do the job, so you will need a slug of batteries to do the job. And it isn’t a matter of improving battery technology, there is a physical limit here.

            I mentioned Dan Nocera earlier and linked to a rather long youtube presentation. Here’s the short version, and at approx the 8 min mark, he has a graphic on this element, which, by his numbers, limits energy from photo voltaics to about 0.1% of the market. But then he goes on. With a surprising solution which does involve solar cells.

            Please watch this video. He’s no crackpot unless you consider MIT to be a bastion of crackpots.

      • donbacon says:

        Thanks for responding.
        Has anyone knocked on your door recently and offered to mount a solar panel on your roof that would satisfy most of your electrical needs and pay for itself after X years? Probably not, and I wonder why not.

        • billthechowchow says:

          If the sole-location design is based on profits only, a national solar panel/wind turbine project could be accomplished by an organization such as the WPA and negate much of the oil/natural gas/coal/nuclear discussions. So transfer the subsidies from the traditional dirty energy industries to cleaner energy projects.

          • MadDog says:

            Thinking more about it, exactly what idea is societal, and not that of an individual? Societies pick up on certain ideas, driven by individuals and run with them, mostly blindly, picking one “truth” out of the collection and saying: “That’s it!”…

            Or conversely, what is individual and not societal? Individuals pick up certain ideas, driven by societies and run with them, mostly blindly, picking one “truth” out of the collection and saying: “That’s it!”

            …50,000 Frenchmen (or English or American or…) can’t be wrong.

            A very basic error in logic.

            Nonsense. Tis not logic at all, but the probability function in statistics. In general, but certainly not always, if a lot of folks believe something like the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, they are “probably” right.

            Sometimes 50,000 Frenchmen (or English or American) can’t be wrong, and sometimes they can.

            • Starbuck says:

              Wrong link.

              What I mean by invoking the statement about 50,000 anybody is that there is a strong tendency that if enough people believe something, it must be true. That notion is the root of despotism…inoculate a population with a statement and you have them going along with it, if only not to stand out, to go along to get along.

              No system of discovering truth would ever acquiesce to mob rule for obtaining truth.

              And your example is absurd. Again false logic. Or maybe more accurate, a erroneous use of if/then statements. You can use that argument to get people to agree with your process and then they fall into the trap.

          • donbacon says:

            No, I’m suggesting that somebody in your community, even somebody on your street, should train him or her self on the installation of solar panels and go door-to-door making a sales pitch to homeowners, and then get up on the roof and install them. It doesn’t take a national effort, nor should it.

            • emptywheel says:

              Actually, w/ solar stuff, yes it does, because it’ll take that kind of effort to be able to build an indigenous industry anymore.

              US Steel and the Steelworkers have a very healthy partnership to promote domestic manufacturing. One of the reasons USS realized they needed to do it was bc of a company that was trying to complete source wind turbines in the US. But we don’t even have the capacity to do that anymore, and that doesn’t require the raw materials that solar does. The only thing that’s going to make it possible to get to the point where we can source turbines here anymore is a concerted effort to think more seriously about our manufacturing. And that’s a national thing, by necessity, because it involves trade disputes and foreign relations.

              • Starbuck says:

                But the emphasis on solar is perhaps, misplaced as the article from MIT I posted would have one examine.

                Here is another link to teh MIT concept, a put forth by Daniel Nocera.

                It is over an hour long (which I thought Youtube frowned on) but a shorter version available is simply not satisfying.

              • donbacon says:

                Obviously we can’t source as many goods any longer, so the emphasis has to be on the occupations requiring direct contact with consumers, such as the selling and installing of solar panels for one example. Going door-to-door and then getting up on the roof. That’s where most of the money is, too, in many cases.

                • emptywheel says:

                  No, your assumption that “obviously we can’t source as many goods any longer” is the viewpoint I’m saying is increasingly outdated, one that will have to change out of a variety of necessities and advantages.

                  The globalization model that gutted places like BH is running its course. And people within the US are recognizing it doesn’t make good business sense anymore and it’s a giant security problem.

                  So either we change that–and again, it will require the federal govt’s involvement–or we are done as a country, and not just because of lost jobs.

                  Yes, multinationals will contnue to source in other countries (largely bc those countries are engaging in mercantilism) but even there, an increasing number are realizing that’s a good way to have your IP stripped. But you seem to be badly confusing multinationals that have traditionally been thought of as US companies (like Ford) and America. They’re not America anymore. THey may be HQed here, but that means increasingly little.

                  • donbacon says:

                    No, your assumption that “obviously we can’t source as many goods any longer” is the viewpoint I’m saying is increasingly outdated, one that will have to change out of a variety of necessities and advantages.

                    Okay, I have no objection to it. Let’s go into the garage and make something and peddle it around town. There are so many success stories on cookies alone, as I recall.

                  • emptywheel says:

                    Or let me put it another way. The country that can maximize its wind power in the short term will become the new global leader. We cannot, as a matter of very basic national security, simply cede the field by saying we can’t source it here, particularly not when the issue is one of technological knowhow, not anything to do with labor or raw materials.

                    You really want to give up on a key new energy technology bc the US has lost technological knowhow?

                    That’s why you’re wrong about the role of the federal govt here. Either we make wind power happen here, or our balance of trade will get further and further out of whack until China just enslaves us all for shits and giggles.

                    • donbacon says:

                      That’s a persuasive argument regarding the importation of expensive items of infrastructure (e.g. wind turbines) as it affects the balance of trade and national security, and for those items I could see that import restriction would make sense. In fact the overall subject of free trade deserves more scrutiny because of its effect on employment.

                      But attacking those macro-issues doesn’t lessen our need to rely less on corporate employment and more on individual effort, because of the number of people who would still lack employment even with government action on trade.

                  • earlofhuntingdon says:

                    Who could ever imagine that actors in India or China would expropriate, appropriate or misuse IP brought to or generated by joint ventures and other foreign-owned enterprises that enjoy the benefits of their open and accessible mass markets?

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      Power, like water, has a habit of remaining in pockets and doing its work, regardless of how dramatically it recedes overall.

                  • earlofhuntingdon says:

                    I am less sanguine about how quickly American MNC’s will learn or adopt the lessons of Fukushima, or admit the panoply of risks that globalization and large-scale outsourcing generate.

                    Pressure from Wall Street for bankster levels of profits doesn’t seem to have abated. Management turns over about every three years; sometimes its lessons learned are dropped entirely, as in takeovers of large companies by those from entirely different industries, as I think is true in the case of GM.

                    More knowledge seems to be lost with each successive generation that is retained, whether it be about earlier, more productive working management-employee relations or about managing over-extended networks that introduce systemic levels of risk. The preferred model seems to be to the “wait it out” or “bail out” model.

                    The exception may be non-American companies who invest here. Unfortunately, many companies invest here and simply hire and adopt American managers and their existing models. IKEA is a lowly example; practices praised in Scandinavia are not much in evidence here. Still, as with China and India, no matter how bad things become for Main Street, America will remain a reasonably large market for most of the world’s goods and services, so there’s hope.

                    • emptywheel says:

                      We’ll see. I think for those that are sensitive to transportation and other costs, they may well learn that lesson or a related one.

                      Hell, companies can’t even build jeans cheaply in China anymore. Ultimately, a different model will take hold. And I don’t think just moving to Cambodia has worked out for those who have tried thus far. As you know, China has superb infrastructure. All the new race to the bottom places–even, perhaps especially India–do not.

                      I remember flying back from Bombay w/a guy running a manufacturing line in India. I asked what they do during the daily power outage. They just scrap the parts, lose the time restrating the line, and deal with the injuries that result. That’s not sustainable. And as bad as India is, all the other race to the bottom places are worse.

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      I agree with those observations. There are power outages, routine infrastructure failures, more corruption and less stable societies in all those other countries. And unlike China and India, they have no credible local markets, access to which helps justify the investment, the management time, and the risks involved in setting up disparate organizations in multiple countries.

                      I have, however, seen managers who are persistently reluctant to accept that they might know less about doing business in France or China than they do about how to do it in Chicago or Detroit. The first thing they refuse to accept is that the last thing most locals will tell them about is their problems and conflicts.

        • gesneri says:

          I believe the reasons “why not” would be 1) most of those who would be interested have no money to pay for solar panels and 2) those who have the money are not interested in solar panels since the cost of electricity is immaterial to them.

          • donbacon says:

            I’ve spent some time in sales, and I know that a good salesperson could overcome both of those objections. That’s what salespeople do.

            • gesneri says:

              How do you overcome the “objection” of no money? Do you realize how much people are hurting in areas all over the country? Sure, a percentage are still affluent, but most such are simply not interested in things like solar panels.

            • PJEvans says:

              Salespeople don’t do service, and they don’t do customer support. Their only job is to convince others to buy stuff from them.
              Salespeople are, IMO, con men working within the law (mostly).

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                Getting customers to buy goods they don’t want and can’t afford is the American sales model all right. It may be great for aluminum siding salesmen. It’s not so good for the company when it comes time to collect those receivables, or for the homeowner dunned into paying for them, or who loses their house or can’t sell it because of liens. At that point, the methodology becomes a systemic risk, because it affects neighborhoods and communities, not just individual homeowners.

                America has become a nation of tin men. Banks and mortgage brokers created similar problems by ignoring traditional underwriting, by knowingly selling mortgage loans to people who couldn’t afford them.

                Banks disregarded routine and obvious risk. They “managed” that exposure by passing it off to others, undisclosed and without recourse. That’s a fraudulent business model. They created systemic risk by doing so in huge volume. They have been insured by our government against any risk that might come back to them, and by lobbyist-induced commitments that investigating and prosecuting them would be “harmful”. To whom is never specified. That will ensure the next debacle is bigger.

                If that’s what successful sales people do, give me an auditor any day of the week and twice on Sundays. I’m sure there’s a more balanced approach. I’ve seen it, I’ve seen it work, but it requires a restraint and a commitment that has become pilloried as too slow, insufficiently lucrative and old hat. That’s another legacy of the over-financialization of American business.

                • PJEvans says:

                  I worked at a company where one of the salespeople (assuming they had more than one) would tell would-be customers ‘sure, we can do it’, and then they’d talk to the engineers who’d actually have to do the work. I think on some of those the company may have lost money. (The particular salesperson I remember left after that episode; I think the engineers would have killed him if he hadn’t.)

    • bobschacht says:

      Pacifica and Ralph Nader have caught your drift long ago. The NPR stations in Tucson and Albuquerque, about 10 years ago, were carrying a good series on the effects of globalization on communities in Third World countries, and now the chickens are coming home to roost, since we didn’t pay enough attention back then.

      Some of my politically liberal family members were horrified a month or so ago when I highlighted our slide towards fascism by forwarding one of the articles warning us about this slide. My academic older brother sternly reminded me that Fascism means Mussolini and Hitler, and dictatorships, and that I Was Not Abiding By The Approved Definition of Fascism (which he quoted to me). Naomi Wolf’s books are falling on deaf ears. Well, this is how we’ll get there.

      Bob in AZ

      • donbacon says:

        There was something under Mussolini called corporatism. It wasn’t quite the same as what we have, but close.
        You mentioned NPR and Nader. NPR I’m not sure of, every hour of every day (that I listen) they “do the numbers” and they’re NOT employment numbers, are they. It’s the stock averages, as if the “public” i.e. the average person cares. Nader I am sure of, but I don’t want to go there right now.

  10. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    the many serious negative consequences of companies buying up other companies, both from within and from without a nation, is one of the central problems that our (now worldwide) business system has not addressed, in fact pretends is not even a problem.

    some mergers and acquisitions may be useful to both parties, but there is a very long history, beginning in the ’70’s i’d guess, of m&a’s that were economically pointless and/or highly destructive to at least one of the parties.

    i don’t know how michigan and iowa have fared in this business lottery, but michigan’s manufacturing base surely must have left it highly vulnerable to the m&a’s lottery.

    • allan says:

      highly vulnerable to the m&a’s lottery

      … which is currently going full-tilt, in fact seems to be the only thing that companies are doing with the $1.9 trillion of cash that they’re sitting on.

  11. Scarecrow says:

    Perhaps we should rename Michigan Randtopia? I’ve got mine, and that’s because I deserve it. And you people on the other side of the river got what you deserve . . . Nothing.

    So, when it comes to health insurance, whether it’s Medicare, or Social Security, the model is collective security and share the wealth, spread the prosperity and the downside too. Everybody in, nobody out. But in economics, it’s every jerk for himself.

    The problem with globalization is that it’s noT even balanced between these ideologies. It’s all every jerk for himself, and screw your own country.

    • jdmckay0 says:

      The problem with globalization is that it’s noT even balanced between these ideologies. It’s all every jerk for himself, and screw your own country.

      Well, yes. And screw the other country to whatever extent possible as well.

  12. theaocp says:

    Don’t forget that our lovely Snyder can put corporations in charge of municipalities, too! I wonder if Whirlpool would like to have their own little feifdom? Winner winner, chicken dinner!

  13. UnkaWillbur says:

    Ready to hop yet little froggies? That water is starting to bubble… Does anyone here really think they won’t be among the first “invited” to the “reeducation” camps?

  14. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    “…where entrepeneurship and self-driven initiative…”

    when you talk in these terms, terms reflecting a focus on the actions (and implicitly, the character, or lack thereof, which is always implied in this kind of rhetoric) of individuals,

    you cannot make constructive analyses of a business/economic problem.

    these are problems caused by large social systems; they are NOT problems of individual initiative, schooling, etc.

    what this rhetoric does do very effectively, however, is point a finger at individuals as the entire cause and solution of their economic problems.

    • OldFatGuy says:

      what this rhetoric does do very effectively, however, is point a finger at individuals as the entire cause and solution of their economic problems

      Which is precisely the point. Which is why I find the rhetoric itself AND the individuals spreading it disgusting. Pea brained simplistic if I can do it anybody can therefore it’s ALL your fault.

      Fucking degrading (intentionally), revolting, and educational too. It teaches us a lot about the individuals spewing that shit.

      • MadDog says:

        Agreed. Tis the usual Randian bullshite.

        It’s a belief that each of us is John Galt or Howard Roark incarnate, and that if only the strictures of our social compacts were removed, why each of us could be the epitome of individualism.

        Simplistic, oh so satisfying, and oh so ignorant of humanity.

        We are all not Beethovens, nor Einsteins, nor even Denny Hecker of local Minnesota car dealership fame (who by the way now calls prison home).

        To truly understand our human species, one must acknowledge and give credit to the most important aspect of our success. Namely that we are social creatures who built the most advanced and successful organization ever envisaged, and that is what we call society.

        It is only society which has allowed us to not only survive, but prosper.

        No idea, feat, or invention of any one individual comes even close to the success that society has given our species.

        Is there room for individualism? Of course! But it would not survive, and perhaps, not even exist, were there no society.

        • Starbuck says:

          I’m not sure to what you are referring by saying we are not all___(fill in the blank)

          We all possess our own genius, that’s what makes us who we are. Einstein never took personal credit for E=MC^2. He saw himself as the vessel trough which this information manifested and he ran with it. Supposing he had been laughed down at the outset?

          Trust your own genius and run with it. Far more satisfying than running after some one else’s genius. No one has been able to complete the Schubert “Unfinished Symphony”, or Mozart’s “Requiem”. Yet those who tried possessed music genius of their own.

        • donbacon says:

          Some more “Randian bullshit” for you.

          How important are small businesses to the U.S. economy?

          Small firms:
          Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
          Employ just over half of all private sector employees.
          Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
          Have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years.
          Create more than half of the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).
          Hire 40 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers).
          Are 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises.
          Made up 97.3 percent of all identified exporters and produced 30.2 percent of the known export value in FY 2007.
          Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms; these patents are twice as likely as large firm patents to be among the one percent most cited.
          http://www.sba.gov/advocacy/7495/8420

          • geoshmoe says:

            How important are small businesses to the U.S. economy?
            Small firms:

            define: size? Last I saw it was like a hundred employees, privat jet, along with shoe cobblers?

            
Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms.
            includes a lot of mail drops, no? a useless figure.

            
Employ just over half of all private sector employees.
            so what?
            
Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll.
            Employ 99.7 % and pay only 44% well now it starts to make a little sense.

            
Have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years.
            Innordinate turnover, part time, semi, not real jobs.

            Create more than half of the nonfarm private gross domestic product (GDP).
            Big agra, provides unemployed world wide, heil big agra… unlimitied supply of labor.

            Hire 40 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers).
Are 52 percent home-based and 2 percent franchises.
Made up 97.3 percent of all identified exporters and produced 30.2 percent of the known export value in FY 2007.
Produce 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms; these patents are twice as likely as large firm patents to be among the one percent most cited.

            There’s billions of everthing, good thing computors can keep tabs, so what?

          • MadDog says:

            Some more “Randian bullshit” for you…

            I stand by my commentary at # 42 above.

            …How important are small businesses to the U.S. economy?

            Small firms:

            Represent 99.7 percent of all employer firms…

            Quantity does not equal quality. Quantity does not equal anything but quantity.

            …Pay 44 percent of total U.S. private payroll…

            Which means that 56 percent of total U.S. private payroll is not by small firms.

            …Have generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years…

            Do you understand what most of those jobs were? McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Walmart, Starbucks, etc. Great work, right?

            …Hire 40 percent of high tech workers (such as scientists, engineers, and computer programmers)…

            Which means that 60 percent were hired by other than small firms.

            …Made up 97.3 percent of all identified exporters and produced 30.2 percent of the known export value in FY 2007…

            Quantity of exporters is of little meaning. 69.9 percent of known export value came from other than small firms.

            You seem to be a relatively intelligent person. I have no quarrel with small firms (other than the minimum wage slave shops like McDonalds, Burger King, Subway, Walmart, Starbucks, etc.).

            Where I take issue with you is the apparent naivete expressed in part of your comment at # 16 above:

            …People need to learn how to think for themselves and be creative. When one has no possibility of employment, one must look around for needs to be filled, at a profit, and get to work providing a product or a service that other people need, and not be bitching and moaning that the government isn’t doing enough for them…

            It seems to imply that if each individual just became an entreprenuer by starting their own widget business and if the government just butt out, all would be well.

            That seems highly simplistic to me and yes, I call it Randian bullshite.

            Who’s going to grow the corn, the wheat, the lettuce and tomatoes we all eat? Who’s going to produce the beef, chicken and pork we eat? Who’s going to package and deliver the food products we buy at the store? Or are we all supposed to shoot our own squirrels for dinner?

            Who’s going to make the cars we drive? The soap we use to wash our faces? Who’s going to make the clothes and shoes we wear?

            Who’s going to pave the roads, produce the energy that heats our homes, teach our children, patrol our cities, put out our fires?

            The bottom line is that our society is extremely functional precisely because we work as a group to provide that which the individual cannot.

            This is not a statement against individualism per se, but rather against the simplistic Randian philosophy that insists all our ills are as a result of our social compacts and that all ills can/must be cured by individualism.

            I continue to stand by my statement of:

            …Is there room for individualism? Of course! But it would not survive, and perhaps, not even exist, were there no society.

            • Starbuck says:

              Picking on one line from #42:

              “No idea, feat, or invention of any one individual comes even close to the success that society has given our species.”

              Some success! Look around you and tell me how successful we are. There is no control mechanism at work, not even Rand’s idea that totally free competition would correct any anomaly’s generated by trying to game the system.

              We are on this fragile planet, and the greatest good for all living things can be the only sustainable point of view.

              As for singular ideas that trump all of society, even the simplest ideas of a Jesus or Gandhi or Buddha hold sway. They have continued even as societies fail.

              Maybe they know something!

              • Starbuck says:

                Thinking more about it, exactly what idea is societal, and not that of an individual? Societies pick up on certain ideas, driven by individuals and run with them, mostly blindly, picking one “truth” out of the collection and saying: “That’s it!”

                50,000 Frenchmen (or English or American or…) can’t be wrong.

                A very basic error in logic.

              • MadDog says:

                “No idea, feat, or invention of any one individual comes even close to the success that society has given our species.”

                Some success! Look around you and tell me how successful we are…

                Consider the actual words and meaning of my quote again. Do you really think that 300+ millions could survive, much less live together here without “society”?

                …As for singular ideas that trump all of society, even the simplest ideas of a Jesus or Gandhi or Buddha hold sway. They have continued even as societies fail…

                As an life-long agnostic, I would point out that more folks and societies have died as a direct result of religion than likely any other cause.

                I have no quarrel with “good words” regardless of origin, but they are distinctly different from “good deeds”.

                The fundamental benefit of “society” is allowing individuals to live together.

                Do I consider our society successful? All is relative, but bottomline my answer is yes.

                Do I believe there are substantive flaws in how our society functions? You betcha!

                • Starbuck says:

                  I never said or implied that we survive or attempt to survive without society. I am responding to the notion that society trumps individual ideas. If that’s not what you meant, please correct me.

                  I suspect that in the grey veils of antiquity, someone spoke up and suggested we could live better if we live together. Certainly, 20 people with clubs will do a better job keeping the predators at bay.

                  In other words, I would put my money that individuals thought up basic ideas.

                  Ideas are the locus of organization.

          • emptywheel says:

            And the federal govt is not pushing any of these firms internationally–they’re pushing the firms that are big enough to own a number of Congressmen.

            ALso, these small firms are the size that manufacturing will be being done at in the future.

            • donbacon says:

              And the federal govt is not pushing any of these firms internationally–they’re pushing the firms that are big enough to own a number of Congressmen.

              You obviously don’t know the extent of overseas corporate commitment by the u.S government. It’s extensive and pervasive.

              The U.S. ambassador to Poland, Victor Ashe, about ten years ago:

              By some accounts, when the Polish government next releases statistics, they will show that we’ve increased our share of investment and that the United States is now the second largest investor in Poland. The list of new investments is growing so quickly–Gillette, Avon, Johnson Controls, Pratt and Whitney, 3M, Firestone, and so on—that I risk inadvertently overlooking someone. These add up to hundreds of millions in dollars in investments, thousands of new jobs, and billions of dollars worth of future business activity.

              American investors are taking advantage of Poland’s skilled labor and European Union market access. Claiming 17% of Poland’s foreign direct investment, U.S. enterprise is a potent force in a range of product and service sectors.

              Our Commercial Service—the part of our embassy that devotes itself to trade promotion–has given priority to several sectors, under the Department of Commerce’s priority “Manufacturing Initiative.” I would like to mention just a few. . .

              Assistant Secretary, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, Evan A. Feigenbaum, March 20, 2007:

              We are trying to help Central Asians forge some new connections to the global economy: to trade and investment opportunities, cross-border energy projects, additional deep-water ports, and the enormous possibilities of the global market.

              American business plays a key role in sustaining long-term growth in the global economy, creating jobs, and improving standards of living around the world.

              Feigenbaum’s successor at State, Robert O. Blake, Jr., last December:

              one of America’s goals is to try to expand our investment not only in the hydrocarbon sector but also in the non-hydrocarbon sector.
              So we will continue to work with our Kazakhstan partners to encourage them to put in place the most transparent and attractive investment climate, including on the question of sanctity of contracts, to enable them to attract even more American investment there. Thank you.

              • emptywheel says:

                Uh, that first example? That’s precisely what I’m talking about. Big corporations.

                But not, significantly, big corporation trying to sell into Poland. Big corporations opening up factories there.

                Every single example you’re pointing to is about shipping jobs overseas, not selling American goods so as to keep jobs here.

                Which, again, is part of my point. That stuff supports our hegemonic role in the world: it ensures we’ve got people infiltrated into the Polish and C Asian and Asian communities so we can pressure them on certain issues. But that has nothing to do with teh well-being of your average American. On the contrary, it usually hurts it.

          • jdmckay0 says:

            How important are small businesses to the U.S. economy?

            “small business” is just too generalized a term. It doesn’t speak to major initiatives or economic “drivers”, nor does it (at least currently) speak to innovation.

            And that word… innovation, needs a whole lot of specific defining to be meaningful. Still, FWIW, all the world surveys for last couple years have shown steep slide in US innovation. With capital hard to get, less real income, less (and lower quality) education…

            Long/short: availability of resources: natural, capital, and knowledge is getting scarcer.

            One of the things I’ve found this last decade is, whole lot of the small business folks have become a whole lot less professional: they resell products, but more times then not unfamiliar w/’em, don’t back ’em up, and very happy to sell crap.

            We need paradigm shifts… fast.

            • PJEvans says:

              If you’re a website builder, they aren’t interested, because the know someone who can do it for a lot less money. (Of course, what they’re getting looks like it was done by a teenager, but they didn’t have to pay a couple of thousand dollars to the business in their neighborhood that could do it better.)

            • donbacon says:

              We need paradigm shifts… fast.

              Judging from this discussion I wouldn’t hold my breath. Generally FDL pups are happy being unhappy.

              • jdmckay0 says:

                Judging from this discussion I wouldn’t hold my breath.

                C’mon dude… have u watched CSPAN lately? That’s where the corruption is, not here.

                What does a lie cost? I’d like to see that question start getting asked, ’cause we’re up to our ass in those things.

              • OldFatGuy says:

                LOL!

                Yeah, that’s what FDL is all about. Maintaining the status quo so we can bitch forever.

                Wow. Your ability to COMPLETELY overlook reality and facts is impressive. Yep. So long as FDL isn’t beggin for free market donbacon approved ideas, why we’re just supporting the status quo.

                So funny. So fucking funny.

                donbacon. Wouldn’t know a fact or reality if it bit him (don??) in the ass and left an obvioous scar.

                Thanks for a most entertaining thread.

    • donbacon says:

      when you talk in these terms, terms reflecting a focus on the actions (and implicitly, the character, or lack thereof, which is always implied in this kind of rhetoric) of individuals,

      No, that’s just the way you take it. When I say “entrepeneurship and self-driven initiative” I am talking about suggesting to people that they have it within themselves to become economically successful without depending upon the charity of a large corporation, and encouraging people to think outside the “job” box because that box is a lot smaller than it used to be.

      It’s actually a win-win for the individual and has nothing to do with character.

      • emptywheel says:

        That’s great where there’s funding available. But the banksters don’t actually make those kinds of loans as much anymore.

        And they sure as hell don’t make those loans to people in Benton Harbor (unfortunately).

        • donbacon says:

          There are other ways to finance start-ups besides the major banks. There are venture capitalists, and that’s probably a concept that should be pushed down to a lower level, on the idea of what that Nobel winner did with micro-loans. I haven’t researched it, but there must be ways.

          • emptywheel says:

            There ought to be ways. But even the South Shore Bank failed, partly bc of the damage the big banks did in the bubble. And community banks and credit unions, that are increasingly providing that kind of funding (there’s a risk there, too, bc it’s not necessarily clear all of them have the due diligence in place ot make these kinds of business loans) are at a competitive disadvantage bc of some of the bailout rules and gravy trains.

  15. Ruth Calvo says:

    Since the local schools etc. require taxes on the citizens, cannot wait until this unelected gov’t imposes taxation without representation. Sounds like very solid grounds for rejection of this plan.

    • OldFatGuy says:

      You got that right.

      How the hell this isn’t taxation without representation and doesn’t break the spirit, if not the letter, of the constitution is beyond me. No way in hell this kind of stuff is constitutional. Except it is, of course, when you dress certain folks up in robes that get to declare “Why yes, yes indeed, you can have taxation without representation in America!” and then take off those robes and go home to collect whatever payment they’ll receive for that day’s constitutional killing.

      This country so needs a revolution again.

  16. MadDog says:

    Speaking just for myself, it is far too easy to slip into the “American” mindset that everybody in America, and everywhere in America, is just the same.

    Folks living in Minnesota (like me) are just the same as folks living in Alabama, or Michigan, or California. Our lives are exactly the same, we watch the same TV shows, eat the same food, live under the same government, endure the same struggles, etc.

    Only we’re not. Not the same. Perhaps the differences are just a matter of degree rather than uniqueness. Perhaps they are both.

    It takes a post like this from EW to drive home just how bad things are in our “Good Morning America”.

    I read in EW’s words about Michigan as more than just a “recession”. In some sense, some very real sense, I read them as a “depression”, and not just the economic kind either.

    I don’t mean to say that EW is depressed, but rather that her description of the circumstances and life for many in Michigan who have slid further into this “misery”, highlights a “difference” among us “Americans”.

    That for we who haven’t (yet) experienced such, who are personally unfamiliar with, or who are in denial that such exists, this could be in fact, our very own approaching future.

    Thanks EW for peeling back the blinders on at least one pair of eyes!

    • emptywheel says:

      Though to be fair, BH has been like this for a very very long time. I remember during the riots being shocked that the average–average!!!!–income was $17000, or whatever it was back then. BH is, like some reservations and some towns in the deep south, just badly stuck in this bad place.

      And that realization-the seeming intractability of it–is unfortunately why a lot of Michiganders didn’t respond with shock at this.

      • Starbuck says:

        “When you are up to your ass in alligators, it’s hard to remember that your job is to drain the swamp”.

        I don’t remember who said that, but it is a good aphorism.

        • emptywheel says:

          Right. We’re too busy doing the equivalent of bailing and bailing and bailing out the boat (by cutting expenses, aka jobs), that we haven’t been trying to figure out what replaces old style manufacturing.

            • Starbuck says:

              I’ll offer a suggestion keeping with the nautical theme: We were too busy celebrating our “score” of the job, with all the money that came with it drinking tee many martoonis to notice that the alligators were punching the holes!

  17. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    indeed it is.

    from the mar 2011 issue of hbr

    “the new m&a playbook” (christensen, et al):

    “…study after study puts the failure rate of mergers and acquisitions somewhere between 70% and 90%…”

  18. Espteacher says:

    It is absolutely scary what is going on in this country. Unless we restore sanity to our elected leaders in 2012 we will be the United States of Koch with in a generation. If we don’t, The Citizens United decision will go down as the beginning of the end for the what was once the greatest country in the history of mankind. Greed and the rich will destroy this country in side of a century.

  19. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    well said.

    and let’s not forget that, for example, the “newly industrialized” states of the american south can be as vulnerable as a michigan or an ohio.

    springhill, tenn (saturn) illustrates the point.

    the beaten down workers of michigan are just the vanguard of perpetual economic chaos in individual american lives absent caring social rules regulating business behavior in a global marketplace.

  20. Starbuck says:

    I would suggest two things to effect a major change:
    1) Remove Corporate personhood
    2) Make the cost to fight taxing large profits more than the tax itself.

    • OldFatGuy says:

      2) Make the cost to fight taxing large profits more than the tax itself.

      I know it’s probably not what you meant, but this one made me laugh.

      I could see a debate in Congress now on setting some minimum amount it would cost corporations to buy Congressman, and making sure they set that amount high enough to be more expensive than the tax. LOL, you’d probably see future Congresses RAISING corporate taxes then, so as to justify raising the minimum amount required to purchase a Congressmen!

      • Starbuck says:

        That’s a positive feedback loop which leads to instability. I don’t think it would ever get that far.

        Obviously, in order to implement this, it would take a major change in Congress as well. Not necessarily specific individuals, and certainly not the whole Congress but enough to affect change.

        So let’s not resort to gallows laughter to marginalize a writer, ok?

        • OldFatGuy says:

          What the hell?

          I wasn’t marginalizing anything. I said I it wasn’t what you meant, I was trying to share a funny thought that came to mind because of it.

          Whatever.

          I’m sorry. Sincerely so. However I’ve apparently rubbed you wrong, I’m sorry for that too. FWIW.

          • Starbuck says:

            Thanks. That’s the problem with blogs. It has little reference to unspoken signs that alter the meaning. I suppose that’s why things like /s are showing up these days!

            I take back my snark!

    • bluewombat says:

      Remove Corporate personhood

      Or, if it can’t be removed, give corporations the same panoply of truth and consequences actual persons are subject to, up to and including the death penalty.

      • Starbuck says:

        Agreed, but they have the lawyers to get around that, most likely. There was a term years ago: Piercing the Corporate Veil”. Sounded so good! Never happened.

        Well, maybe in an instance or two or three, but not substantially.

  21. harpie says:

    “But in the present times, through the greater part of Europe, a creditable day-laborer would be ashamed to appear in public without a linen shirt, the want of which would be supposed to denote that disgraceful degree of poverty which, it is presumed, nobody can well fall into, without extreme bad conduct. Custom, in the same manner, has rendered leather shoes a necessary of life in England.”-Adam Smith; The Wealth of Nations

    Everyone knows that if you’re poor, it’s because you are a bad person.

    [Need I say: /s?]

  22. workingclass says:

    So Joseph Harris is the new Fascist overlord of a tiny black burg in long suffering Michigan. There is no freedom, no democracy and no rule of law in Benton Harbor. This is how the Fascists roll. They destroy your community and then take it over. This is what they have in mind for the whole country.

    The Democratic and Republican parties are tools of our Fascist overlords. If you are still supporting either wing of the Uniparty you are a Fascist yourself and a loyalist to those who would enslave us all.

    • BearCountry says:

      This is certainly the provervial sea-change in government. There is no hint of self government in this act and the results. If a corporation runs the town, who gets the taxes paid in? We left the Constitution far behind long ago. The ‘patriot’ act removed most of our Constitutional government, and some further acts completed the job (fisa, et. al.). The citizens united decision simply codified what was already in place. The struggle now is simply how soon will all of our social safety net be removed. The repub wing of the one party system wants it done now to maximize corporate profits. The dim wing wants to go a little slower so that there is no chance for the frogs to jump out of the pot. If you have not read Naomi Wolf’s The End of America, and Chalmers Johnson’s Nemesis, you owe it to yourself to do so ASAP.

      • Starbuck says:

        As I implied earlier, the end point is chaos, and hopefully, with enough authentic history surviving to allow rebuilding into a more stable state.

        In a Western novel I read recently, the writer had the thought from the protagonist to share which I found remarkable:

        “Why should a man want to make a deal or trade a horse or do a piece of work to another man’s disadvantage? Self preservation is the first law of life. But as the plants and the tree and the birds and the beasts interpreted that law, as merciless and as inevitable as they were, they had neither greed or dishonesty. They lived by the grand rule of what was best for the greatest number”

        -Zane Grey “The Man of the Forest” 1920

        The quest for balance while flourishing is a deeply buried and undeniable urge in the human soul.

        The first half of that book is a beautifully told story, unfortunately, it gets pretty bloody thereafter. That’s what I would rather avoid.

  23. AitchD says:

    Rather than finding real solutions to those long-festering problems, we’re just going to shut it down.

    Katrina without the Act of God*.

    *Insurance doesn’t cover government decrees.

    • emptywheel says:

      It’s different than what you’re doing in AZ. But remember, in AZ, you’re experiencing a shorter term acute shock resulting from the housing bubble crash. In MI, we’re experiencing a long-term, more gradually entered depression.

      Frankly, MI’s turning around so in many ways we’re better off than you. But one of the reasons we’re adopting these crazy economic “solutions” and you guys adopted those crazy racist ones has to do with the time frames involved, I think. (Plus, AZ is more integrated racially than MI.)

  24. speakingupnow says:

    I feel as if I woke up and it’s back to the 1950’s in America. Is the John Birch Society now running this country?

    If you are a resident of Benton Harbor, Michigan, what specifically could you do to reverse what is happening?

  25. geoshmoe says:

    Emergency

    a little word, used to get people to get serious, wake up, head for the exit, or

    Has by its use, in mass society, moving people, crowds always, masses of innattentive cattle often enough,

    The innocuous little word, metastocized into Kryptonite to Democracy,

    All things made possible under the conditioned response of Emergency!

    The authorities, are in control you must do as told, go out of your house, go into your house, this, that, what ever, the authorities are in control,

    Emergency! no more democracy today!

    Emergency

  26. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    “…now i’ll move on to the comment-limited guy…”

    that is conceited, condescending bullshit on your part – again.

    what oldfatguy was expressing,

    very concisely,

    was emotions – anger and contempt, possibly.

    they have a very useful place in human discourse, even if much in disfavor in our current buttoned-down, now-children-behave society.

  27. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    “…no, that’s just the way you take it…”

    no, you are a victim, a self-satisfied victim, apparently, of delusions of your own making.

    the way i took your comment was the it should be taken by anyone with a knowledge of the history of economics.

    • donbacon says:

      I assure you that I am not a victim, nor do I ever intend to act as one.

      The history of economics, now that must be a fascinating subject, particularly if covers recent events. A history of the dismal science. Or did you mean the history of economies?

  28. mzchief says:

    I saw some of the possible effects of Michigan’s new Emergency Financial Manager law were mentioned in:

    Weekly Audit: Hostile Takeover Threat Spurs Concessions from Michigan Unions” (TheMediaConsortium.Org, by Lindsay Beyerstein, Mar. 22, 2011)

    and

    Michigan emergency manager law could bring privatized jails” (DailyKos, Joan McCarter, Mar. 21, 2011)

    Then

    ACLU probes EM law’s origins” (The Michigan Citizen, by Zenobia Jeffries, Apr. 17, 2011)

    Now that there is a real possibility in the imminent termination of the entire American social safety net, folks might want to get serious about terminating the cancerous corporate entity which is State chartered and a proxy for a handful of very rich people. There’s more than one simultaneous angle that needs to be exploited but IMVHO you do want to check out Move to Amend and be sure to dissolve a number of key corporate “law firms.”

    • bobschacht says:

      “Michigan emergency manager law could bring privatized jails” (DailyKos, Joan McCarter, Mar. 21, 2011)

      We already got those here in AZ. Next thing was that the companies that owned the jails conspired with the Governor on the immigrant legislation so as to enlarge the jailed population, thereby creating more business for the jail companies.

      That cozy arrangement hit a little snag last year when a couple of inmates at one of the privatized prisons escaped, and murdered a number of civilians. Then people started asking questions. But I don’t recall the outcome.

      Bob in AZ

  29. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ayn Rand’s pathetic output is startling only in how well it catered to the unarticulated desires of the ruthless, the selfish, the already wealthy.

  30. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Working out of the Great Depression took more than a war. It took ten years and a government committed to doing it and to widely spreading the costs and benefits of doing so. I don’t see evidence of any of those factors at present.

  31. Deep Harm says:

    My sole visit to Berrien County was in connection with a nuclear power plant emergency drill, where I was part of an evaluation team posted at the Emergency Operations Center. I couldn’t help noticing, as I drove through Benton Harbor to get to the EOC, that it was largely African-American. Then, I stepped into the EOC, where decisions would be made about lifesaving efforts in the aftermath of a nuclear disaster. I was shocked to see that the sea of faces in the facility was entirely white and, except for a couple of Red Cross volunteers in one corner, entirely male. To this day, that image haunts me, and therefore I am not at all surprised that Benton Harbor was the first victim of the state’s appalling new policy.

    • Deep Harm says:

      I should have noted that my visit was in the late 90’s. Also, for those who may not know, EOC’s are typically staffed with representatives of the county government–i.e., commissioners, health department, sherrif’s department, etc.

  32. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The bottom line is that our society is extremely functional precisely because we work as a group to provide that which the individual cannot.

    Randians would rather revert to subscription services only for the fire brigade, risks to others be damned. The idea of acting together, in government, church, the PTA, other social group is anathema. Randians reject society, they fear group effort and value only the self. Her potboiler writing crudely advocates behavior that would destroy society, not nurture or improve it.

  33. orionATL says:

    as to future manufacturing being small scale ([email protected]),

    steel manufacturing in the u. s. might serve as a guide.

    in the 70’s large american steel firms virtually disappeared.

    they did so, if i’m recalling correctly, in part because of cheap labor but also because their manufacturing equipment was old an inefficient by comparison to their foreign competitors.

    some yrs later, i don’t the exact history, american steel manufacturing made a comeback which featured small companies with efficient equipment making speciality steels.

    so in +-50 yrs the us went from giant steel companies making everything to small steel companies who had found a speciality niche in worldwide steel making.

    • AitchD says:

      I grew up in Pittsburgh. The steel mills began to close in the late 1970’s and by the mid-1980’s the industry disappeared. It was inevitable, since the industry depended on waterways for shipping, cooling, and for dumping of waste. It was possible and not counter-productive for the industry to modernize its manufacturing process, after the Japanese and Korean models, even going so far as to adopt the metric system. But the two primary sticking points were the EPA regulations of the 1970’s and Mother Nature.

      The steel mills in and around Pittsburgh were built along the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers, extending for some 50 miles. Those rivers were eroding their banks, as all rivers will do, and the rivers were destined soon to reach the mills. Only a massive construction effort to build retaining walls would keep the mills operational.

      It wasn’t worth it. ‘Unfortunately’, the United Steelworkers union had made huge gains in wages and benefits since the late 1950’s, so there was a nonpareil model perfect storm.

  34. raven333 says:

    So, who pays the police in Benton Harbor? Who pays the sanitation crews?

    I think this is going to end in a massacre.

    Well-fed corvids.

    • emptywheel says:

      I haven’t kept track, but in BH, as in Detroit and some cities close to it and places like Flint and Saginaw, they’re cutting way back on cops.

      It was funny, bc in our first years of budget crisis, we cut way back on incarceration of non-violent criminals. And the crime rate went down. But w/increasing desperation and fewer cops, that can’t last. (Note that Flint, which has had an EMF in the past and many people expect to have one again in the near future, has one of the highest murder rates nationally.)

  35. donbacon says:

    So either we change that–and again, it will require the federal govt’s involvement–or we are done as a country, and not just because of lost jobs.

    No. No. No. People power is better. Did the gov’t set you up in the blog-biz?

    • emptywheel says:

      The skill sets I rely on don’t disappear if exposed to global competition on unfair terms.

      The skill sets required to build key products we need to be building do and have.

      I think you’re really just not accounting for two things.

      1) we need to power all our fun stuff. Oil is in decline (and our increasing dependence on importing oil is one of our big weaknesses). Moreover, the most efficinet countries in the future will run on something other than coal. So we need to being to replace oil in this country, but one of the reasons we can’t do so is because we’ve lost manufacturing ability. W/o getting that back, we’ll be begging the Chinese for help, and will have just replaced the Saudis with the Chinese as our masters.

      2) A number of other things that we rely on–from the InterToobz to our war machines to our basic infrastructure–have been badly exposed because we have simply assumed we could source parts to China or some other country. Yet aside from the fact that that is not a resilient position, aside from some quality problems, it means China can basically put back doors into our infrastructure that they will be able to access at will.

      So we cannot survive in anything resembling our current world position unless we refocus on manufacturing. But to do that, we need to start playing by the very same rules that every other dynamic country is playing by. And that’s a federal thing.

      Again, your unwillingness to have the federal govt here play the same role that it plays in all of the countries we’re competing with is basically letting ideology get in the way of the very survival of the US as we like it to be. Your ideological ideas may be worth that for you, but it’s not for me.

      • donbacon says:

        Again, your unwillingness to have the federal govt here play the same role that it plays in all of the countries we’re competing with is basically letting ideology get in the way of the very survival of the US as we like it to be.

        I have agreed with you that there have to be trade restrictions, but if you believe that the U.S. would ever have a command economy like China and Japan then you’re just whistling Dixie. (Or Yankee Doodle, as the case may be.)

        I’m not about to build an auto or a wind turbine in my garage, but other items can still be designed and (possibly, but not necessarily) manufactured locally, with some financing assistance. There are all kinds of examples of this, from cookies to surfboards to the other endless varieties of stuff that Americans enjoy. It isn’t like nobody does it, but there is still opportunity is my point.

        What I’m trying to promote, without much success, is a positive mind-set that we-can-do-it.

        For more expensive items the major value-added is in the distribution, marketing, installation and servicing of the item, plus the profits in each step, and not in the manufacturing. That’s a China problem.

  36. orionATL says:

    continuing from 121:

    “georgia trend” is a wonderful little magazine that focuses on county econ development agencies, chambers of commerce, educating workers for new jobs, transportation, and georgia businesses.

    here are a couple of stories from their april 2011 issue about the economy and economic development in the savannah area:

    http://www.georgiatrend.com/our-state/04_11_savannah.shtml

    http://www.georgiatrend.com/features-economic-development/04_11_ey_se.shtml

  37. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Again, your unwillingness to have the federal govt here play the same role that it plays in all of the countries we’re competing with is basically letting ideology get in the way of the very survival of the US as we like it to be. Your ideological ideas may be worth that for you, but it’s not for me.

    As Sally said to Harry at the diner, yes, yes, yes.

  38. earlofhuntingdon says:

    It is a strawman to say that EW envisions a “command” economy here in the sense that it exists in China or Japan. We do need a coordinated economic policy. What we have, American mythology notwithstanding – the devil’s greatest trick was convincing us he doesn’t exist – is an industrial policy written by lobbyists and Hill staffers on behalf of disparate corporate interests.

    It isn’t coordinated. It focuses on themes, not goals: tax cuts and subsidies, and legal immunities for commercial interests. It ignores wider, more productive needs: the needs for investment in jobs, education and infrastructure. It ignores the interests of those who do the working and paying and living and dying. It celebrates the narrower, short-term interests of those who employ them at low wages, and without benefits or futures.

    That sort of policy won’t create jobs or more competitive industries or provide the infrastructure needed to sustain them. America’s largest corporations are abandoning America, after all, not investing in it or its communities. We can and should have a better one. I think that’s what EW is advocating for. It will never look like China’s; but it wouldn’t be hard to improve on the one we have.

    • emptywheel says:

      Oh, yeah.

      I didn’t figure it was worth burning up the command economy strawman.

      Though it is worth saying that (repeating) that our govt’s biggest leg of industrial policy is the military industrial complex.

      Of course, that’s killing us in more way than one.

    • donbacon says:

      It is a strawman to say that EW envisions a “command” economy here in the sense that it exists in China or Japan.

      But she indicated (#148) that she wanted “to have the federal govt here play the same role that it plays in all of the countries we’re competing with.” Did she not?

        • donbacon says:

          Okay, imports weren’t within a country mile of the remark, but I’ll accept that. We agree on no command economy, including no subsidies to certain industries, and only government interference in trade. (?)

          • emptywheel says:

            I guess you missed my discussion of mercantilism, which is the main way (aside from building and ripping apartment buildings down–but then we just fund bubbles and then bail out bubbles, so we’re just one step removed) that China’s govt interferes in its economy.

            And the subsidies in that case are often about requiring our companies to do things if we want to do business in China, which is how it’s so easy for them to steal our tech.

            As to subsidies: one way or another you need to put technologies like wind on a par with what they’re at internationally, otherwise we can kiss that capability good bye. Again, you’re letting ideology get in the way of playing a game according to the rules it is now played by.

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              To say that we’re behind the eight ball is an understatement. Take green technology, from manufacturing methods to product content to recycling of dangerous waste.

              American corporations see such initiatives as a complete negative. They claim they involve added cost they can’t bear, more intrusive regulation that will stifle jobs (they won’t create anyway), and introduce new, undomesticated competitors that still, you know, compete. They lobby the hell out of such initiatives, either killing them or watering them down so as to avoid short-term costs and maximize short-term compensation.

              Meanwhile, in the real world, competitors such as those in Europe have responded to changes in their business, political and geographic environment. They have worked through some of those costs and changes. They have developed manufacturing systems and produce goods that are greener and less costly through the birth-to-death product cycle. In part, that’s because they’ve engineered out cost and dysfunction, such as the mercury content in computer screens and circuit boards.

              That puts American corporations, which successfully lobbied to resist change – and a recognition of its causes – at a competitive disadvantage. Their production processes are less efficient, their goods are ultimately more expensive when looked at, as global customers now do, through their birth-to-death costs. They’ll demand protection. Even if they don’t get it, they will distract political resources attempting to get it.

              What’s hilarious is that US companies think it’s the Europeans that are coddled. Talk about Dodo birds ignoring changes in their environment that will make lacking flight a small problem.

            • jdmckay0 says:

              I guess you missed my discussion of mercantilism, which is the main way (aside from building and ripping apartment buildings down–but then we just fund bubbles and then bail out bubbles, so we’re just one step removed) that China’s govt interferes in its economy.

              One of few things I don’t agree w/you about. Sounds a lot like Yves, and this is one of her blind spots.

              And the subsidies in that case are often about requiring our companies to do things if we want to do business in China, which is how it’s so easy for them to steal our tech.

              That’s an inaccurate characterization… think I can make the argument definitively. I understand why you say this (GM’s China deals), but you just ignore too much other stuff.

              In short, our manufacturing went there and exploited labor & no eviro regs. They dumped raw shit in their rivers, pumped it into the ground untreated, same w/the air. In yr 2k, they made about $0.06 p/hr.

              Still, they saved… they lived 10-12 in a room and saved.

              Gradually… very gradually, they accumulated enough capital from these savings to invest here and there. Gradually. Wasn’t really till ’04/5 that their own, homegrown technology/education/infrastructure/cutting edge manufacturing processes… all this kind’a caught critical mass momentum.

              All of a sudden, they were a “market” w/money to spend, so here comes GM/IBM/M$ and such.

              And w/decades of being exploited, w/nothing they could do because they’re people were hungry, they said: “Hey, ok, come on and make some money here… 1/2 of it. And teach us how to do shit in the meantime”.

              This is what we should’ve been doing all along… it’s the right way to do stuff, eg: leave people better off for one’s presence there. We did the opposite.

              Frankly, I think China gave our big boys a better deal then they deserved.

              • earlofhuntingdon says:

                I can’t agree with your observations about China.

                General Motors’ success, for example, came after years of failed investments before the mid-1990’s and a revised plan and commitment thereafter. It finally came about almost a decade later, owing to an unusual level of commitment, the work of hundreds of foreign and tens of thousands of talented Chinese workers, the spending of tens of billions of dollars and the contribution of the best technology it had available. Similar stories, different only in scale, could be told by Ford, Volkswagen, HP, Carrefour, Starbucks, Mary Kay Cosmetics. Countless failures not on that short list littered the airports, hotels and ports. As in the theater, only those who haven’t been watching call success an “overnight” achievement.

                On some of your specifics, domestic and foreign companies share the externalized cost of poor environmental regulations. They share the low, if rising costs of labor; foreign invested firms generally paid a premium for it. (Your pay scale of 6 cents an hour isn’t accurate for urban China or the parts of it most attracting foreign and domestic investment.) Foreign firms also pay for differential enforcement of laws, from labor to environmental to trade restrictions, domestically and on imports.

                China’s success, like Korea’s and Japan’s before it, but on a larger scale, was a product of intense adherence to an explicit, frequently adapted industrial policy. The government demanded large investments and even larger contributions of technology. It mandated joining with local partners; heavy exports; local hires in large numbers and in key positions; the taking on of heavy trailing liabilities; and the development of supplier networks in depth, so as to increase employment, lower imports, and to utilize foreign technology, manufacturing and management practices.

                The Chinese government actively monitored individual companies, workers and managers. It tapped communications and spied on negotiations. It solicited bribes and played hardball that would shame the Yankees. It appropriated technology outright and indirectly through its laws, the actions of partners foreigners were obliged to join with, and through the negligence or too happy assumptions of those foreigners. It did it because that was always part of the plan.

                China actively penalized those who did not promote its priorities. It imposed massive taxes on imports of foreign labor and materials, and kept some firms out of the market as a whole, out of certain urban markets or away from their preferred partners.

                It also poured huge sums into developing lands; into educating its urban work force; through infrastructure development projects in transport, telecoms and power generation. It succeeds by working to a plan, not by agreeing with whatever the lobbyist of the day brings onto the Hill in addition to those party invitations, speaking gigs, and fat envelopes.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  I should add that China is not an enemy; it is a talented, energetic, skilled and dedicated competitor. It has a large public sector, a large private one, and its armed services continue to invest directly and indirectly in promising and lucrative businesses. Its people are as varied in their talents and aspirations, their hungers and their failings, as any in the United States.

                • jdmckay0 says:

                  eoh:

                  W/all due respect…

                  As in the theater, only those who haven’t been watching call success an “overnight” achievement.

                  This doesn’t really speak to process I described. What I said is/was so.

                  On some of your specifics, domestic and foreign companies share the externalized cost of poor environmental regulations. They share the low, if rising costs of labor; foreign invested firms generally paid a premium for it.

                  See previous comment: you are far too generalized to draw/compile accurate conclusions. Again, it happens I’m very, very familiar w/what I described… been there a lot.

                  What was done there, as I described, is close enough to call true. It was, in fact, done as I say on massive scale. Only in last 10 yrs has China begun to organize centrally so that generalized enviro policy, wage baselines… eg: standards for manufacturing… this is fairly new, and has evolved quickly.

                  As recently as 2000, there were, virtually, +/- -0- enviro regs. Local (provinces) officials were bought/bribed in order to get guarantees for labor and non-pollution oversight. This was done… vastly, far & wide. It’s really a lousy, dirty story AFAIC.

                  This has changed… dramatically. China is developing/implementing their own, homegrown, green tech. In water, energy, all the stuff that matters. Regardless of what’s written in west (AFAIC mostly from anti-Chinese bias… I see it all over, especially from otherwise honest econ/finance westerners), they have passed us at lightspeed in both cleaning things up & implementing their technology.

                  Bejiing/Peking Univ… massive R&D in these areas, massive. Amazing what they’re doing, I think.

                  Here, we can’t even begin the conversation politically, let along move forward. Rather, our latest congressional incarnation, bought & paid for, is trying to defund/shut down the EPA for crying out loud. Sarah Palin & M. Bachmann get more ink wrt enviro/climate realities then Michael Mann.

                  Sheesh.

                  (Your pay scale of 6 cents an hour isn’t accurate for urban China or the parts of it most attracting foreign and domestic investment.)

                  It was exactly accurate for avg. blue collar wage in 2k, at least taken from best available data at the time (China didn’t compile it then). Certainly in the ballpark.

                  The manufacturing we moved there was not in major urban areas (especially coast), rather… as I said, deals were made w/local officials in largely undeveloped provinces (eg: hungry/poor). Beyond that, “manufacturing” wages are not “blue collar” wages. Whole lot of massive expansion in late 90’s/early 2000’s was for “assembly”, gluing/sewing Nikes together…

                  You think the whole Tom Delay/Marianna sweat shop thing was unique?

                  Wages were as I said. Currently, avg. blue collar nationwide in China around $.70 p/hr. Manufacturing (trained workers) now around $1.40.

                  Foreign firms also pay for differential enforcement of laws, from labor to environmental to trade restrictions, domestically and on imports.

                  That’s pretty new, Earl… really taken hold only in last 5-7 yrs.

                  China actually, now, executes (from memory, at least 9 in +/- last yr.) corruption at local level… eg: they’re serious about this stuff. I’m not saying it’s good or bad, just saying…

                  Imagine what would happen here if all our social conservative, family values, free market lawmakers were similarly disciplined… really, I think it could put Republicans into extinction.

                  • emptywheel says:

                    I’m not going to address your disagreement w/me and EOH in depth. I actually think you’re painting them as completely contradictory when they’re not.

                    But I will say this: your timeline is badly off. You forget I was doing business in China in 2004-6. And all the things you say are very recent were completely mature by the time I was there (note, one of the times I was there I was traveling with a guy deeply involved in supply chain, so I’m not w/o second hand knowledge of how big US corporations see the supply chain).

                    As to Ford and GM being “happy” with China? Well, they’ve had two vastly different experiences (bc GM had, as EOH correctly points out, experience early but got in early enough to get the best assignments fr the govt). And while GM in particular is happy that they are profitable in China, both companies routinely talk about the tech they’ve gotten stolen and the unfair terms on which they trade.

                  • earlofhuntingdon says:

                    I assume you meant “with all due respect” with the irony it usually conveys. Some of your generalities glitter, too. I’m sure we each have our own valid experiences to draw from. The issue is how representative are they.

                    EW has made clear on a string of threads that she lived and worked in China, at times on behalf of Ford Motor Company or one of its principal consultants.

                    I have lived and worked in China, and have more than twenty years direct experience in doing business in Asia, Europe and Latin America. I have negotiated with government agencies, large and small companies, private businessmen, banks, lawyers, accountants and more generic consultants, some scrupulous, some not, most somewhere in between.

                    I have negotiated business entries, exits and reorganizations in all three regions, involving wholly-owned enterprises, 50/50 joint ventures and minority partnerships. Transactions ranged from the sale of $50,000 CNC machines to a Chinese factory to structuring manufacturing investments worth more than a billion dollars. I have worked on sales, service, manufacturing, tax, technology and distribution arrangements in industries as diverse as software development, hardware manufacturing, IT outsourcing, automotive systems and supplies, and personal care products. My comments are based on my personal experience.

                    Regarding your request for a link to allegations about bribes, I will just point to the history of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act – both its accounting rules and its anti-bribery provisions – and to the continuing campaign by US multinationals to overturn it because it impedes the growth of their offshore businesses.

                    Such requests are common. They are usually more subtle than a demand for the proverbial suitcase full of $50’s. Sometimes not. Sometimes they result in deals lost or explicitly walked away from. More typically, they are dealt with via consulting and service fees, over-hiring, permitting the partner to control of certain aspects of the business (customs transit, warehousing, accounting), and such things as guaranteed admissions and scholarships for favored sons and daughters to attend US colleges and professional schools.

                    Regarding the mixed successes of automotive investments in China, GM does seem to be currently at the top of the heap. That was not always so and may not remain that way. All foreign candidates were asked for extraordinary commitments to the market: large capital commitments; local hiring, training and manufacturing; import substitution and the development of domestic supplier networks; and the open and free “exchange” of technology.

                    Chrysler’s Jeep operation was an early entrant. In the mid-1990’s, it looked as if Volkswagen, Ford, or Toyota would supplant them. Honda remains in the game. Daimler limits itself to sometimes creative import programs. Ultimately, Beijing, Shanghai and its influential SAIC group made a decision to support GM.

                    Regarding differential enforcement of environmental, labor, and other laws, that is common and not remotely a feature of only the past several years. Nor is it limited to China. Further, China is a permission-based society. The US and EU tend (with exceptions for traditional industries) to authorize businesses to engage in any activity that is not illegal. China authorizes an enterprise to engage in specific, narrow activities. One result is far greater control of who plays where and at what scale, with what effects on domestic players. That approach empowers bureaucracies and bureaucrats. It requires the development of long-term associations with them in order to run a business day-to-day and for the long term.

                    The last topic I’ll cover is the appropriation of technology. The issue is not new or limited to China. Japan wrote the book on how to do it after the Second World War. American managers, flush with victory, tended to take their own technology for granted, and tended not to take those “little guys” with what Colonel Mandrake described as “such bloody good cameras” very seriously. The decimation of the US consumer electronics industry was one result. I once negotiated with a Japanese agency that had a curious, but self-explanatory motto emblazoned on its cards and letterhead: Deus ex Machina. They meant it.

                    Latin Americans and South Asians responded with selective enforcement of US intellectual property rights, particularly drug patents. Thais and other “Asian Tigers” read the Japanese book – with gusto. The Chinese reinvented it.

                    The point is not that such techniques or objectives are illegal. Some of them are. Some of them are subtle and long-term, or just take place on the third shift. They are also obvious, concerted and underestimated. The river is a river of lost technology and lost competitiveness, not a river of tears, though it has become one with the loss of US jobs partly resulting from it. You are correct that we need an intensively focused response, not with blithe assumptions or angry bluster.

                • jdmckay0 says:

                  The Chinese government actively monitored individual companies, workers and managers. It tapped communications and spied on negotiations. It solicited bribes and played hardball that would shame the Yankees.

                  What bribes? Do you have links?

                  And just what do you think happened w/current chorus of Tea Party Republican congress critters, all singing from the same hymnal (abolish EPA, destroy unions, deny climate change, etc etc etc). You think all thes ass holes sat in labs and came to well reasoned, harmonious mass agreement on all this Tameny Hall juvenile thuggery lawmaking?

                  I mean, really…

                  It appropriated technology outright and indirectly through its laws, the actions of partners foreigners were obliged to join with, and through the negligence or too happy assumptions of those foreigners.

                  Oh, cry me a river…

                  GM, Ford, IBM… they’re all pretty damn happy w/current arrangements in China. Look at GM’s profits there.

                  These whole narrative, AFAIC, is a sad commentary, promulgated widely on our shores, that contributes to not only our lack of progress, but what seems like a slide backwards.

                  How to explain? On macro (global), historical, micro eg. individual traditional corp. structures… proprietary knowledge, profit structures, disbursement of profits (“maximizing shareholder value”)… no matter how you cut the cake, things have changed… dramatically. And on any of these levels, the US is chasing it’s tail in almost every regard.

                  Let’s start w/brief historical perspective. In ME, w/oil producing countries, US/Britain oil companies sang a similar refrain through the exploration/development years. Britain took between 90-98% of profit from Persian oil though first 1/2 of last century. As representative stat, (from memory) around ’45 BP paid more in taxes to the “throne” then was returned to Iran. Mossadeq came in, threw out the British who were more or less shamed into withdrawing in manner similar to their expulsion from India… and what did we do?

                  We stepped in to fill the void. We made a pact w/the Shah, enrichened him while taking lions share of profits through a couple of our multi-national petro behemoths… somewhere around 70% until Shah’s exile. CIA assisted Shah in imprisoning and torturing political dissent. We’ll forget the cascading affects of this that led to Khomeni, which led to beginning of anti-US “Islamic radicalism”, which led to inserting Sadam as counter weight to Khomeni, which led to 10 yr. war to “further our interests”, which then led to Bush I’s Kuwait adventure (all lies), then 9/11, then more Sadam wars (he’s got’a go)…

                  yet never, not a single time through all this, was the US able to have a thoughtful moment wrt: hmmmm… what is the real return on investment of policies which prop up one petty dictator for temporal advantage of a physical asset (oil in this case), then shift to another as “our interests” change a bit, then another, then depose one of the prior…

                  Nope. None of that.

                  Saudi Arabia, Iran… all the biggies, they all were in a similar exploited position which your description bypasses currently in China. And they rebelled, they threatened nationalization of production, and the oil mega-behemoths settled for about the same deal China has set: 50%.

                  South America, same story, different US “interests”. Wall St. was “shocked” when Lula was elected. Decades of IMF backroom control of Brazilian politics, similarly “taking” lions share of value while enriching their chosen (literally) elected officials… Brazil had enough.

                  When Lula was elected, I read everywhere… all the conservative financial rags (WSJ, Economist, Barrons…) how this was to seal Brazil’s fate, the corrosive non-capitalistic (socialism) “re-distribution of wealth” that would impoverish them. Well, that didn’t happen.

                  Argentina meltdown… same thing: IMF negotiated deals guaranteeing international corp. investment’s returns, on backs of their citizens (taxpayers), in a manner very similar to current Ireland/Iceland fiasco whereby banker (finance) malfeasance is bailed out by those citizens who were victimized (literally) by the crooks.

                  Similar things happened in Bolivia these last few years… oil, gas & water all in one. They said, basically, “fuck you” and through out latest incarnation of multi-national sponsored Shah.

                  So. America has now it’s own economic union, shed IMF dictates and plowed it’s own course, and bascially… they don’t trust the US. The extent of this sentiment, based on real time experience over decades, is quite well justified AFAIC. Most of So. America is going the right way economically, socially, infrastructure… all of it.

                  The Soviet Union, after Perestroika and “bloodless coup”… an event unforeseen and near miraculous. Given massive cold war expenditures to play the good/bad cop exercise, a payoff in seeing the wreckage of this dismantled Soviet apparatus succeed… huge. They had no infrastructure, they couldn’t get goods to major distribution centers. They had, at best, undependable communications (phones that only sometimes worked in Moscow/St. Petersburg, but largely not available to connect intelligent rural farmers etc. w/needed cooperative distributors etc.)

                  So, what did we do? Well, Reagan unleashed his capitalist angels, who more or less did what those guys always do: built crap brick/mortar store fronts to extract as much biz for this “opportunity” as possible… manifesting in essentially MacDonalds and Jack in The Box on every corner of Moscow/St. Petersberg (not that much of a stretch.). For a pittance compared to what it cost to run the cold war, we had a willing partner (Gorby) who really didn’t understand how to build a free economy, just begging for guidance…

                  and we gave ’em MacDonalds, Jack ‘n The Box & Taco Bell.

                  And for those of you who don’t know it on US shores, we lost the Russians… completely. They are polite about it, and they don’t waste a lot of energy deploring the US as we’re currently doing w/China, but after Reagan’s experiment… their people as a whole, just like So. America and a bunch of others, don’t trust us. They don’t believe in US style capitalism ’cause they’ve seen it’s manifestation up close.

                  They too have gone their own way.

                  So, again… there is vast historical context by which anyone taking objective, non-passionate inventory/assessment of things, can sit up and realize… “hmmm, I think I see a pattern here.”

                  Your comment also ignores the process I described in China: eg. from exploitation >> ownership.

                  It also ignores the multiple metamorphic reorganizations/redirection of things legal, economic, educational/technical there during this time, while we’ve remained exactly, precisely the same. Rather, you only describe, somewhat inaccurately, an end of the process snapshot which entirely ignores all the moving parts, influences, and carefully thought out (I’ll call them) corrections, as China has implemented them, to respond to what is clearly in evidence, as a means to protect “their interest.” :)

                  Problem w/this static, old and rusty US capitalistic model: it only considers corp. interests, mis-described now as “US interests”, while more or less demonizing Chinese interests.

                  I’d also point out, to all the “experts” decrying injustice of China’s currency peg: this peg was instituted, as part of the mega-national’s wish list, through 90’s and into early post milleniun, as a means to increase their balance sheet. All the offshored, WS listed cheap shitty manufacturing dumps built in China… those guys wanted this peg.

                  So China, enduring that period of exploitation and saving and (etc etc etc) is left w/a manufacturing infrastructure, more or less inherited, and when they gradually begin to take some ownership of it, the west cries fowl, decrying the injustices of “the peg.”

                  Sheesh…

                  One other thing (actually many of ’em, but…): China is reinvesting 12%+ GDP for some years now. US, less then 3%. China has put huge volumes of knowledge, which west/WS still likes to proprietize, in the public domain. The value of having this stuff available to inter-related development in all kinds of tech… it’s a big part of what fuels their rapid advancement.

                  So for last 11 years or so, we’ve cut education drastically. China’s expanded it… drastically. We have ignored needs… infrastructure and whole bunch of other things, China has addressed them. We elected Bush twice, 2nd time in full view of US’ coming impoverishment based on his (their) policies, all the ME waste, financing those wars w/Chinese purchased Treasuries while building economy on very predictable housing bubble…

                  I just don’t know about all this China bashing. They’re doing what we used to do. They are addressing problems… in big way, we’re electing Tea Party ass holes. Their plowing major new technologies, on their own, big part of it cleaning up their environment and developing cleaner/more efficient energy. We’re defunding the EPA, investing nothing in infrastructure, and essentially using force fed taxpayer bailouts of most of the same corp. crooks which did this same dirty work all over the globe as I described (generally) above, yet somehow, this seems lost on our citizenry.

                  Amazing.

                  As to the stealing of technology: sheesh…

                  I had my own software shop in SF Bay Area (silicon Valley) for 18 yrs, beginning right at end of DOS days. From the beginning of all that… having to manage 256 kb of memory on 20 mb hds, to getting graphical interfaces, then dial up, then a few usable databases…

                  this stuff evolved fast, and at light speed. We did all kinds of (what at that time) was custom stuff, getting wherehouses here connected to suppliers there. Cutting edge at the time. We ended up w/successful comprehensive HIPAA product when new regs kicked in ’01. We always did very, very good work… never delivered product ’till it was best it could be.

                  Anyway, though all that breakneck evolution… everyone, everyone was stealing everyone else’s technology. Everyone. California courts were beyond overwhelmed by it all… saturating, corp policy to steal technology. We took our website down, marketed directly instead, simply because the time/cost of staying ahead of thieves was overwhelming, not to mention massively diversionary. I think it was Frontline who did a documentary on this.

                  And Microsoft, who pretty much controlled the direction of everything… it was gospel through mid/late 90’s: you don’t go up against those guys, ’cause they’ll steal your stuff and put 1000 lbs of lawyers on your neck until you choke. I made a good living developing on MS operating systems, and still have relationships w/them. But just saying man, sheesh, get real about life in the big city.

                  So anyway, sure… I’d love to see an honest global environment of commerce. And I’d love to see products accurately described, as opposed to seductive marketing masking shit products. And I’d love to be able to take our lawmaker’s word for things, and believe WS wealth projections.

                  But, unfortunately, that’s not the case. And grading on the curve, China has left us in the dust. We’re a 1000 lb gorilla, farting and drooling all over ourselves, telling ourselves that the past prosperities will re-appear because, well, we’re America!!! All this while the whole fucking planet is passing us by.

                  We really, really, really need an accountability moment. Really.

                  We’re trying to fit square pegs in round holes… “old wine in new wineskins”. Our economic models don’t fit current realities… they just don’t. We’ve got huge… huge volumes of available knowledge: physics, biology, engineering, materials… huge… all on the sidelines, not being utilized or even considered as part of meeting our people’s future needs.

                  Instead, we’re (as I said the other day, one of my mantras lately) essentially being held hostage by dirty coal $$ preventing any progress whatsoever, not to mention the same doing all they can to cut the legs off of anything… anything, that “threatens” their existence.

                  Really.

                  We need transformations. We are so far behind, the only way current model of “maximizing shareholder value” can continue is the same way it’s happened last decade or so: cook the books.

                  Humans can’t progress when they are wedded to an economic system which is circular: eg. which holds as gospel that our “wealth” is currency, while ignoring the society’s health… the impoverishment of our citizens not just monetarily, but intellectually and morally.

                  We really do need new paradigms. We need to forget “return on investment” and start plowing new, as yet not fully comprehended technology (knowledge) whereby we can provide more of what’s needed w/less resources, physical space, etc etc etc. People hopefully will come to understand… those comfy middle class union manufacturing jobs are gone.

                  Despite what Yves and bunch of other pundits say, all those goods are being made far far cheaper by foreign labor, at higher quality, including shipping costs… then what we can deliver domestically. Our offshored corp. initiatives have determined this condition. That is gone… it’s not coming back.

                  We need to get real, and we need equivalent of Manhattan Project in multiple domains… eg. discover as yet unforseen ways of doing things better. We aren’t going to get there waiting for Wall Street to direct a few $$ to these efforts: they have proven it’s not in their genes… they’re crooks for crying out loud. :)

                  We need pardigm shifts… major transformations, most particularly in the means by which we determine what exactly this economy of ours needs to do. Currently, that void is being filled by Fox News, WS crooks, and utterly false “political speech” by people who “have theirs” and really don’t give a shit.

                  It doesn’t have to be that way.

  39. OldFatGuy says:

    Well I see most of the comments are arguing with a free marketer about reality. That’s a lot like arguing how old the earth is with a fundamentalist Christian. Doesn’t matter how much evidence you’ve got, it ain’t gonna work.

    But so far no one has spoken to the Constitutionality of this. Are there no Constitutional law professors around when you need one??

    How can an appointed, unelected official declare what taxes will be imposed on ANYONE, much less an entire town. And before anyone tries with the bullshit that the governor is elected and he appointed him, no, doesn’t work. The taxes this appointed individual is charging are for this TOWN ONLY, not the whole state.

    Somebody needs to challenge this, although I suspect it already has been challenged and some right wing asshole wearing robes once again read the Constitution in a way that makes it fit his ideology, rather than the other way around.

    No way this is constitutional.

  40. OldFatGuy says:

    O/T

    Oh yeah, and my son is now a married man!

    Congratulations again Josh if you’re reading! You sure did look fine today!

  41. OldFatGuy says:

    And one more bit of OT, although IMO it’s related, as to just how far these neo-liberals will go.

    In Iceland, they had a major bank (can’t remember the name of the bank right now) fail during the financial crisis. And most of their depositors were from European countries. So when it failed, those countries pressured Iceland to bail out the bank.

    Long story short, to bail or not bail out the bank was put to a vote to all Icelanders, and it was estimated it would cost each Icelander $1,000 to do so. They soundly REJECTED the idea in their referendum. Not good enough.

    Now those European countries are going to world courts to DEMAND they bail out the bank anyway.

    Now think about that. Foreign countries, through a world court, forcing Icelanders to pay to bail out a private bank whose investors were mostly not Icelanders.

    I hope I’m not the only one that sees that as a travesty of justice rather than actual justice. However, it is possible I don’t know the whole story as all I know is what I heard on “All Things Considered” on NPR yesterday.

  42. ComradeRutherford says:

    Republican are such liars.

    ‘Local Control’, they shout, as they appoint political operatives to eliminate elected officials.

    ‘Freedom’, they shout, as they take away rights from workers to organize against their oppressive overlords.

    ‘Sanctity of Life’, they shout, as they take away health care for the post-born and force women to have babies they can’t afford, and start numerous wars for profiteering and murdering brown-skinned people.

    How can anyone (who doesn’t make more than $1M a year) vote for such brazenly evil people?

  43. dyanisme says:

    Oh my God, this is so wrong! How can people stand for this??? And how can Republicans get away with the lie that they are for smaller government and local government, then sweep in to completely take over an ENTIRE FLIPPEN CITY!!!!

  44. PJEvans says:

    OT, but something that’s come up here before:
    Facebook is passing users’ information to advertisers. More accurately, perhaps, the MSM have noticed what Facebook is doing with that information. (Not a surprise to us, but we’re paying more attention.)

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That was always part of the business model. As you say, someone is only now paying attention. It’s an unregulated practice engaged in by many companies. In Europe, much of that sharing would be illegal, certainly without obtaining express consent. Even then, continuing restrictions would apply to its physical and virtual security, on its use, its retention and its accuracy. In the US, consumers’ privacy concerns are considered inconvenient to the task of making money.

  45. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I love it when commentators confuse attitude with facts.

    As for corporations being in it only for the money, that’s not news. Morgan, Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Ford and Edison weren’t saints. They were absofuckinglutely ruthless. There used to be process to making money, at least after the Second World War until St. Ronnie came to the throne. Making money required more than disregarding risk and relying on fraud and government bail-outs.

    Things like price, quality, service and delivery used to matter. So did long term thinking about resources and employees, required in order to run a company with such characteristics. Companies internalized the costs of their operation; they couldn’t readily dump them onto the landscape and tell employees, communities and governments to “deal with it”. They even paid their taxes and provided benefits, however, grudgingly, because that was a way to get and keep good people.

    Corporations who did that were net contributors to the societies that hosted them with stable communities, good schools and educated workers, roads, rails and airports, and safe or even pleasant environments.

    There were always predators. Lying, cheating and stealing were always part of the game, just not the whole game. Government hand-outs, forty feet of track from sea to shining sea, Indian lands bought for a song or never paid for at all, coal and timber taken for free from public lands made a lot of fortunes. So, too, did stealing good ideas and violating patents without gettin’ caught, at least without being punished.

    Robbing works via low pay and dangerous work conditions was always popular. So was breaking strikes by breaking bones and heads. Under the table deals, cornered markets and spying on competitors paid for more than one mansion on Long Island, in Newport, in Maine and West Virginia.

    Societies can only take so much predation. They need proportion and balance to survive and prosper. The balance nowadays has swung too far, the greedy have their thumb, their paws, their backs pressing down on the scale. They’ve paid off the weights and measures inspector, who prefers to look forward, not back. If the scale is ever to give an accurate read again, middle Americans will have to push up on it a lot harder.

  46. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    i like this comment very much.

    wisely or not, i trust it because it is consistent with my observatiom of hispanic worker; it sounds like it was written by someone who actually knows chinese workers.

    the part of your comment about environmental consequences in china also sounds on the mark, not only from what i have read,

    but far more importantly,

    from my observation that businesses work very hard to avoid/deny the existence of certain (“external”) costs:

    -environmental exploitation and labor exploitation in china and

    -routine sudden abandonment of their workers in american communities.

    what all this means is that the products the corporations sell have a hidden cost,

    a cost borne by individual workers and their families in china or

    a cost borne by both individual workers and their families

    and by their community or state in the u.s.

    in summary,

    goods made in china are substantially underpriced taking into account the personal, familial, and environmental damage making them entails.

    • jdmckay0 says:

      wisely or not, i trust it because it is consistent with my observatiom of hispanic worker; it sounds like it was written by someone who actually knows chinese workers.

      I’ve been there a lot last dozen years, for all kinds of reasons. Me & small group have some material manufacturing agreements there… very satisfied w/it.

      I do have personal experience.

      Don’t know it all… not by a long shot. But I know plenty enough to positively know when head in the sand US bias is clouding a perception of reality.

      WRT to China, that is most certainly the case.

  47. wayoutwest says:

    I think what we are seeing is that Amerikan Imperialism and Disaster Capitalism are coming to a city near you.

    People, especially People of Color, here not just in less developed parts of the world are not capable of governing themselves. The visible hand of the Oligarchs as well as the invisible hand of capital will be used to correct these inefficencies.

  48. orionATL says:

    jdmckay0 mentioned the saabc900 –

    nations

    corporations

    and

    cars.

    what a crazy, unstable business world we live in.

    misswiki provides this:

    Originally manufacturing aeroplanes, the company sought ways in which to diversify its business and in the late 1940s began manufacturing cars. The Saab Automobile division was based in Trollhättan. The first car was the Saab 92001 on 10 June 1947. The company soon developed a reputation for safe and reliable cars, with a notable competition history.

    and

    In 1968 Saab AB merged with the Swedish heavy-duty lorry, bus and diesel engine manufacturer Scania-Vabis,[4] and became Saab-Scania AB. The merger meant that Saab no longer had to import the British Triumph Slant-4 engine, and could instead use the engine production facilities of Scania. In 1972 they started manufacturing the Saab B engine, and in 1977 Saab took advantage of Scania’s experience with turbochargers and added one to the engine, thus creating one of the earliest turbocharged “family cars” with the Saab 99 Turbo, which has been listed by Popular Mechanics as the second best turbocharged car ever made.[5]

    In 1990 General Motors bought 51 percent of the car division Saab Automobile, and acquired the rest a decade later.

    and finally, this:

    Sale of Intellectual rights to BAIC

    In January 2010 General Motors confirmed it was selling the intellectual property rights of the 900 along with the pre-2010 Saab 9-5 and pre-2002 Saab 9-3 to Chinese company BAIC for US$197mn for 3 vehicle platforms, two transmission systems, and two engine systems.[4]

    the free university of emptywheel.

    • jdmckay0 says:

      ‘tee hee hee… I take it you weren’t familiar w/SAAB and/or c900?

      Pretty interesting history. Among other things, they were 1st to deliver production turbos, and they were dependable. They also pioneered computerized engine management… developed their own company to maturity in this endeavor, then spun it off.

      c900 one of best driving, most dependable, safest, aerodynamic cars ever made. People who had ’em… hate(d) to give ’em up. We have 2 year waiting list, just from word of mouth.

      WRT GM’s investment: GM has has successes and failures in partnerships w/other car companies. Daewoo, (and lately) Opel… good.

      SAAB… really, really bad. Ruined ’em. In ’09, SAAB was most undependable production car on the planet.

      As far as sale of design rights and such to BAIC , yes… I’m aware, very aware. Damn astute buy IMO: a resurrection, or update would be welcomed by many, I can tell you. BAIC had to buy the 9-5/3 as throw in to get 900.

  49. Starbuck says:

    Just get an oil leak in one of those 900’s manufactured before 1985 and see what you have to pay just to replace the gasket!

    I like the car anyway. I’m on my third, and it’s a “late” model. 1995!

    • jdmckay0 says:

      Just get an oil leak in one of those 900′s manufactured before 1985 and see what you have to pay just to replace the gasket!

      Oil leak where, w/how many miles?

      A few ’85(s) and all the others through ’94 (vert only) had DOHC (16 valve, 4 cyl). Previous, to (I think) ’79 (maybe ’81… we don’t do those) shared exact same motor… exact, only difference being 8 valve head.

      Those motors were amongst (or maybe the) most dependable automobile motor ever built. Routinely ran min. 400k miles w/no work whatsoever. Documented list in US of over (from memory) 800 of ’em w/1m + miles… again, w/no engine work.

      I like the car anyway.

      Ahhh. :)

      I’m on my third, and it’s a “late” model. 1995!

      ’95 is a whole different car… called it 900 SE. Still good, but not like c900.

      • Starbuck says:

        I agree about the SE.

        The oil leak I spoke of was from the oil “pan”, which,as you know, is between the engine and the transmission. So to replace it, the engine must be pulled and the engine split from the transmission.

        In 1985, I spoke to the chief engineer of Saab, who was present at the Portland Auto Fair. He told me that the problem was solved with a redesigned gasket which will not leak.

        Anyway, because I needed some engine work anyway on the ’79, I went ahead and spent almost $2000 for the job. Unfortunately, I also had a 3 speed auto tranny and immediately after, I lost second gear. Another 2+ grand! Fuck!

        I traded it for an 85 and was pretty happy with it but it too finally needed work, so I got out of Saab’s for a while and went to an Escort from Ford. Now I am back to Saab.

        The 85 still sits in my yard, forlorn and not running. It has the Aztec wheels so I suppose I could still get some money for it. I considered a complete rebuild but haven’t the money to do so, and if I did, it would go to my photo work instead.

        The 95 will need some work. I suspect the gear shift linkage will need to be replaced and the A/C is inoperative. Leaks around the tail lights etc. It has 167,000 miles. Paid less than 2K for it from a Saab fanatic that really put money into upkeep.

        • jdmckay0 says:

          Anyway, because I needed some engine work anyway on the ’79, I went ahead and spent almost $2000 for the job. Unfortunately, I also had a 3 speed auto tranny

          Ahhh… those things were terrible. Borg Werner. Really, piece of s**t. Generally, they wouldn’t take a rebuild either.

          We don’t use ’em. Most c900 enthusiasts would tell you the same.

          • Starbuck says:

            I considered pulling it and substituting a stick, as the ’79 replaced a ’71 Peugeot 504 (which I also loved!), a stick would be OK. My mechanic just groaned! So for nearly the price of additional repair, I upgraded to the ’85, knowing I would not have to worry about oil leaks.

  50. jdmckay0 says:

    But I will say this: your timeline is badly off.

    WRT what?

    You forget I was doing business in China in 2004-6.

    I never knew that.

    And all the things you say are very recent were completely mature by the time I was there (note, one of the times I was there I was traveling with a guy deeply involved in supply chain, so I’m not w/o second hand knowledge of how big US corporations see the supply chain).

    Again, you’d have to be more specific. You talking about environmental regs? Min wages, localized data/statistical gathering, or… ???

    I certainly don’t accept the timeline is “way off”, it’s not.

    I suspect your context is too small… eg: your GM related experience defining the whole.

    And while GM in particular is happy that they are profitable in China, both companies routinely talk about the tech they’ve gotten stolen and the unfair terms on which they trade.

    Well, what goes around comes around, and it’s certainly coming around hard on our shores these days. “Unfair terms on which they trade”… hmmm.

    I guess we don’t agree on validity of that claim.

    I explained much of why @ 199. Sure seems to me one has to ignore an awful lot to sympathize w/that POV… mainly, entire Chinese experience in this relationship, through it’s many permutations.

    • emptywheel says:

      Okay, let’s just put it this way.

      I have extensive experience in Asia (you somehow missed my repeated mentions of it,fine) and given her time in Australia, I assume Yves does too.

      You base your argument–just as vague as EOH’s and my response–on personal experience. No citations.

      Yet you’re at the same time insinuating that my experience is invalid and claim I’m biased bc my experience doing business in Asia (and with a bunch of people who do business in China) doesn’t match your experience.

      OK.

  51. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    yeah, i knew saab of course, but nothing in detail, and i’d never heard of a c900 – but now i have.

    you’re right, it’s a car with a great history and great elan.

    thanks for sharing that info.

  52. Nell says:

    Per a Forbes blog, Scott Walker is planning to introduce the same “financial martial law” legislation in Wisconsin, apparently. If true, means he’s committed to giving the Koches full value for their $$ between now and recall. Legislation now being drafted (but I’m sure the ALEC template makes that a speedier process).

  53. Nell says:

    @EW: Best wishes on your move; hope the packing and unpacking goes smoothly. Guard those pens…

  54. jdmckay0 says:

    Sounds like I touched a nerve. I can only guess what that’s about.

    I didn’t say your experience was “invalid”: you’re the linguist, dbl check what I said. I didn’t say it.

    I stand firmly by everything I said: timeline is most certainly accurate. Wages p/given yr, legal/regulatory infrastructure… whole ball of wax.

    Yves has most certainly… certainly, misinformed her readership wrt China: expresses a lot of bias as “expert” fact, and defiant in doing so. It’s also damn common this side of left pond.

    Anyway, I think I get the picture here. No point in pounding sand.

    Best wishes to you.

  55. orionATL says:

    earlofhuntingdon

    i read your #214 with great interest, several times as it happened.

    there was a lot to learn there.

    your writings from your experience inform others, myself among them;

    they do not guarantee, as i am sure you will concede,

    the soundness of your argument.

    from another perspective, i found your penultimate sentence moving;

    your ultimate seemed rather churlish.

    as i read the ew, jdmckay, earlofh commentary,

    i profited from the entirety,

    but i am not convinced any one of you knows what the elephant looks like.

    i am convinced you and ew seem particularly disturbed at being “disrespected”, as the street language goes,

    for not being believed that YOU know what the elephant looks like.

    why?

    • emptywheel says:

      Neither EOH nor I argued we knew what the elephant looked like.

      JDMcKay did. He said he knew bc he had spent time in China.

      His problem is cognitive. If the only experience that matters if first hand, than my and EOH’s and Yves experience matters. But if one can dismiss experience as somehow invalid, then his, too is easily dismissed.

      I don’t think he’s wrong about what he believes he saw. I think he’s wrong about his cognitive claim.

  56. orionATL says:

    [email protected]

    nicely written.

    i don’t read any of the three of you as wrong – just very informative, each one.

    but mckay does not seem hung up on being respected; he just says what he thinks is the case; i read you and eofh, on the otherhand, as acting hung up on not being respected, e.g., [email protected]

    is this merely my misinterpretation; that certainly could be.

    on a much larger matter,

    this weblog, for all its superb qualities.

    could really do with a strong dose of humor; “grasping reality with both hands” provides an example.

    when bmaz is absent; humor is largely absent from this weblog with the exception of the wonderfully clever and often funny
    “box turtle”.

    you would be amazed at what would happen, positively, for your superb investigative reporting site (and for your future) if you could manage to inject a leavening agent (or two) into the truthful, informative, but leaden loaf.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, not their own facts. That’s what I’m hung up on.

      I provided background to suggest that my facts are not harvested off trees like the annual Swiss spaghetti harvest, that there is a rational and informed basis for the broader generalizations I make about China, about other international issues, and about the behavior of large bureaucracies.

      I was also responding to the subtext in jdmckay0’s remarks, his/her claim that having actually been to China, s/he knew what s/he was talking about. The implication, as EW observed, was that his/her experience was unique. It’s not. It has its own limitations in time, variety and character, as do mine and EW’s. The experiences of a Mormon missionary in Guangzhou or of an accompanying, non-working spouse in Chengdu or of an embassy’s military attache in Beijing would be different yet again.

      My reference to “blithe assumptions” and “angry bluster” was not directed at jdmckay0, though I see my construction suggests that. As I said in the first paragraph, I’m sure we both have valid experiences. The issue is the validity of our generalizations.

      I was describing the seemingly informed remarks from right and left that characterize China in black and white terms as a friend or foe, as if it operated according to the strictures of a Western government or private corporation. It doesn’t. It operates according to its own. The written character for “China”, after all, pictures it as the center of things; it is all else that is peripheral.

  57. Starbuck says:

    Last one:

    Two blind pilots were both wearing dark glasses. One is using a guide dog and the other is tapping his way along the aisle with a cane.

    Nervous laughter spreads through the cabin, but the men enter the cockpit, the door closes and the engines start up.

    The passengers begin glancing nervously around, searching for some sign that this is just a little practical joke. None is forthcoming.

    The plane moves faster and faster down the runway and the people sitting in the window seats realize they’re headed straight for the water at the edge of the airport.

    As it begins to look as though the plane will plow into the water, panicked screams fill the cabin. At that moment, the plane lifts smoothly into the air. The passengers relax and laugh a little sheepishly and soon all retreat into their magazines, secure in the knowledge that the plane is in good hands.

    In the cockpit, one of the blind pilots turns to the other and says, “Ya know, Bob, one of these days, they’re gonna scream too late and we’re all gonna die.”

  58. jdmckay0 says:

    This is hugely disappointing, le’me tell ‘ya.

    I don’t think he’s wrong about what he believes he saw.

    Ahhh, think I see it coming…

    I think he’s wrong about his cognitive claim.

    I was right (cognitive skills at work)… you think I’m nuts. :)

  59. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The comment sounds Randian. EW wrote in response to several comments that your comments assume an authority to generalize from your experience that you deny to others. Either we can all attempt to generalize from our actual experiences – as opposed to imaginings – or none of us can. Assuming only one is true is the cognitive dissonance. Whether you’re nuts is for you and your friends to know; it’s not relevant here.

  60. bmaz says:

    Well, okay folks. Sometimes we all just disagree. Everybody involved in this here kerfuffle has been here forever, or is the proprietress of the joint. So let’s not attribute bad motives to each other, fight it out on the facts.