Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Saturday, October 29, 2011

OWS -- CBO Report Underscores the Main Point

By John Ballard

Another post made the point but this one won't hurt.
Repetition is a tried and true teaching technique.

The study that shows why Occupy Wall Street struck a nerve by Eugene Robinson


The right maintains that inequality is the wrong measure. To argue about how the income pie should be sliced is �class warfare,� and what we should do instead is give the private sector the right incentives to make the pie bigger. This way, according to conservative doctrine, everyone�s slice gets bigger � even if some slices grow faster than others.

Indeed, the CBO report says that even the poorest households saw at least a little income growth. Why is it any of their business that the high-earners in the top 1 percent saw astronomical income growth? Isn�t this just sour grapes?

No, for two reasons. First, the system is rigged. Wealthy individuals and corporations have disproportionate influence over public policy because of the often decisive role that money plays in elections. If the rich and powerful act in their self-interest, as conservative ideologues believe we all should do, then the rich and powerful�s share of income will continue to soar.

Second, and more broadly, the real issue is what kind of nation we want to be. Thomas Jefferson�s �All men are created equal� is properly understood as calling for equality of opportunity, not equality of outcomes. But the more we become a nation of rich and poor, the less we can pretend to be offering the same opportunities to every American. As polarization increases, mobility declines. The whole point of the American Dream is that it is available to everyone, not just those who awaken from their slumbers on down-filled pillows and 800-thread-count sheets.

So it does matter that as the pie grows, the various slices do not grow in proportion. We�re not characters in one of those lumbering, interminable, nonsensical Ayn Rand novels. We believe in individual initiative and the free market, but we also believe that nationhood necessarily involves a commitment to our fellow citizens, an acknowledgment that we�re engaged in a common enterprise. We believe that opportunity should be more than just an empty word.

I like that language. As polarization increases, mobility declines.
Upward mobility today is far more difficult than it was just a few years ago. Ask any new college graduate facing thousands of dollars in student loans. Or ask someone who has watched his parents spend down to qualify for Medicaid, a lifetime of savings and accumulated assets vanishing almost overnight.. Or the laid-off employee in his or her fifties -- with twenty or more years of faithful service to the same company -- seeking employment in a job market crowded with smart, young competitors.   

Equality of opportunity does not mean equality of outcomes.


  1. Well, I think we're all getting it wrong, actually. We're blaming taxes and bubbles and greed, but the real problem is that our whole financial system has redefined the purpose of money. It is no longer a medium of exchange, but has become a way of measuring power. A few percentage points in taxes, appled equally to all rich people, will have no effect.
    If money still served merely as a medium of exchange what purpose would be served by accumulating such large sums of it? What does a person, or corporation, gain by amassing in a few years more money than can possibly be spent in several lifetimes?
    Money is a measurement of power in that whoever has the most of it is not only seen as the biggest achiever, but it is he who gets to dictate terms to those who have less. Thus the term "too big to fail." As long as this condition exists, as long as such enorous sums are held and the holders of it are allowed to dictate, then all of this tinkering around with a few percentage points in taxes changes nothing.
    Such is the power of the accumulation of great wealth that these powers can rip the very structure out of our social fabric by stealing our capacity to produce and turning us into a society which can survive only by an ever increasing burden of debt, by shipping productive jobs overseas and leaving us dependent upon imports which we can pay for only with borrowed money because the productive jobs are gone.
    And what is our proposal to restore a balance between production and consumption? Not to force the onshoring of production, but to "offer incentives" for such onshoring. In other words, to buy back from these "malefactors of great wealth" that which they stole from us.

  2. Good comment, Bill. I agree with all you said but when I read it over with the words "credit" or "debt" in the place of money it sounds even more compelling. The oldest form of banking, the business of the pawnbroker, illustrates best where money becomes debt and every time a pawned item is not redeemed a little of it's perceived value is added to the money supply. Writ large, that is a model for inflation, harmless enough at the flea market level but potentially catastrophic at the level where fiscal and monetary policies are made.
    Possibly related, I just watched a half-hour documentary examining the Koch brothers and the impact their money and power have had and continue to have on what we imagine to be politics in a free market.
    It won't be seen by most of the people who need to watch because it is an Al Jazeers production. Nevertheless it is rock-solid journalism in the best sense of the word. It makes me think the last decade or two have enabled the power elite to attain critical mass. The next presidential election will be much more that the usual contest between two parties. It will resemble instead that scene in King Kong where the prehistoric monsters are fighting.
    I'm rooting for the gorilla.

  3. Robinson's column was mentioned this morning toward the end of a short NPR interview with a Harvard professor in the news because a group of his students had walked out of class in solidarity with OWS.