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Sep-24-2009 22:10printcomments

How Capitalism Destroyed American Democracy: Part 1

Book review: The Waste Makers by Vance Packard.

The Waste Makers by Vance Packard
The Waste Makers by Vance Packard

(CALGARY, Alberta) - Culturally, it’s enervating enough here in Canada, an economic child of the United States, but if I were an American and read Packard’s book today, I would weep, wail and gnash my teeth out of frustration at the opportunities wasted, the enforced cultural detours and the roads-to-progress blocked—all in the interest of promoting and deifying capitalism. Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story is at least a half-century too late.

American journalist and social critic Vance Packard (1914-1996) was the originator of the pop sociology book, with The Hidden Persuaders, his million-selling 1957 exposé of the use of consumer motivational research and other psychological techniques, including depth psychology and subliminal tactics by advertisers to manipulate expectations and induce desire for products.

It was followed two years later by The Status Seekers where he described American social stratification and behavior. The next year, 1960, saw publication of The Waste Makers, and here we are today, almost exactly a half-century later, exploring the outcome of his ground breaking book.

In the 1950s, wrote Packard, “an investigator for the Reader’s Digest concluded that the new 41,000-mile federal highway system would become a ‘billboard slum’ unless state regulators acted to prevent it.” They didn’t. Commercial interests prevailed.

Now, writes Canadian philosopher Edward Heath, “despite being the most outrageously wealthy society in the history of the world, the more populated regions of the United States are also relentlessly, preposterously, brutally, ugly. American cities often seem to consist of nothing more than mile after mile after mile of aesthetically punishing tract housing, strip malls, and freeway overpasses. It’s hard to think of any great civilization in the history of the world that has so systematically failed to invest its wealth in beauty. This is not just an outsider’s prejudice either. Americans complain about it just as much.”

And they do. After a recent cross country trip by rail, Andy Isaacson wrote in the New York Times that “as early as New Jersey, I realized something that would only feel remarkable a few days later, in the Nevada desert: it’s still possible to travel 3,585 miles across the United States without being the target of billboards, golden arches or absurdly large twine balls. The rails offer a view onto Unbranded America — the land as it was.”

Americans the duped

In the 1950s it was known, but not widely disseminated, that American cultural progress had been halted. In a letter to the editor of Product Engineering a reader complained about planned obsolescence: “Let’s stop all this researching and developing for awhile! We’re up to our glasses in ‘progress’ now….We are inundating ourselves with junk. Science devises junk; industry mass produces it; business peddles it; advertising conditions our reflexes to reach for the big red box of it. To be sure, we are skilled junkmen—but what of us? How far have we advanced? We are junk-oriented cavemen!”

BBDO, with headquarters in New York, is the world’s 2nd largest advertising agency with 287 offices in 79 countries and more than 15,000 employees. Its current incarnation dates from 1957, at which time BBDO president Charles H. Brower said: “The house of advertising is a mighty fortress in our economy….Pull down advertising, and a frightening number of things will fall with it.” The result, said Packard, “is a force-fed society with a vested interest in prodigality and with no end in sight to the need for ever-greater and more wasteful consumption,” concluding that “the nation faces the hazard of developing a healthy economy within the confines of a psychologically impoverished society.” (my italics)

In a 1955 edition of The Journal of Retailing Victor Lebow made an argument for “forced consumption”. “Our enormously productive economy…demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods into rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfactions, our ego satisfactions, in consumption….We need things consumed, burned up, worn out, replaced, and discarded at an ever increasing rate.”

By the mid-1950s,the modest product-testing and consumer oriented activities of the Bureau of Home Economics (Department of Agriculture) were cut back. At the same time, the Bureau of Standards was ordered to stop publishing their booklet, Care and Repair of the Home, which had sold more than 175,000 copies at sixty cents each. The director said: “We have no authority to run a consumer advisory service.” The American consumer was left essentially naked and defenceless against what economist E. H. Chamberlin described in the 1930s as “selling methods which play upon the buyer’s susceptibilities, which use against him laws of psychology with which he is unfamiliar and therefore against which he cannot defend himself, which frighten or flatter or disarm him—all of these have nothing to do with his knowledge. They are not informative; they are manipulative. They create a new scheme of wants by rearranging his motives.”

In 1959, Colston Warne, president of Consumers Union said: “The consumer is asked to choose wisely under circumstances which often baffle the trained technician. He is faced with product differentiation, brand differentiation, price differentiation. He is offered bonuses of extraneous products for purchasing. He is faced with trading stamps, special discounts, and trade-ins. Products are sold in varying quantities and in containers often deceptive to the eye.”

When I go to the supermarket I sometimes remark to those standing nearby, that I am sort of nostalgic for what it must have been like in the old Soviet Union where you looked at the shelf and there was only one kind of soap, one kind of toothpaste, etc. Now there is not only an abundance of brands, but even with some brands there is so much specialization that it is broken up into mini-brands. For laundry detergents there are products for hot water, cold water, warm water, with bleach, without bleach. (Just as there is “waterless” cooking, I know that “waterless” washing can’t be far away) The consumer is overwhelmed and under visual assault. I know I am.

Wear it out, buy it again

No one can be unaware of the strategy of the American automobile industry of the 1950s-1970s where cars were intentionally built shoddily so they would wear out sooner, thus compelling the owner to buy a new vehicle more often. Finally, after the oil shocks of the 1970s, the Japanese invaded the North American economy with higher quality, longer lasting cars, and broke the monopoly. (The Japanese weren’t the first. Several European car makers produced quality but, in going against the American grain, they usually cost more, sometimes much more.)

The term “progressive obsolescence” was coined by J. George Frederick in the late 1920s. Packard noted that “obsolescence planning was spelled out much more bluntly—and specifically in terms of quality—a few years later in a speculative article entitled ‘Outmoded Durability’ in Printers’ Ink (Jan 9, 1936). Its author was Leon Kelley, identified as an executive of Fisher, Zealand and Co. The article’s subtitle was: “If merchandise doesn’t wear out faster, factories will be idle, people unemployed”.

“The people of the United States are in a sense becoming a nation on a tiger,” Packard said. “They must learn to consume more and more or, they are warned, their magnificent economic machine may turn and devour them. They must be induced to step up their individual consumption higher and higher, whether they have any pressing need for the goods or not. Their ever-expanding economy demands it.”

One voice in the wilderness was Senator Joseph S. Clark of Pennsylvania: “The goal of our economy is not the production of more consumer goods at all. The goal of our economy is to provide an environment in which every American family can have a good house for living and shelter, a good school to which to send the children, good transportation facilities and good opportunities for cultural and spiritual advancement.” The capitalist media which depended then, as now, on advertisers for revenue could never have let such a message become widely known.

I’m reminded of Michael Keaton in the 1994 movie The Paper. He gets out of bed, goes into the kitchen and immediately starts drinking a Coke from the fridge. His wife (Marisa Tomei) asks, trying to be sarcastic: “Why don’t you just pour battery acid down your throat?” He says, “no caffeine.” Similarly then, as today, you could ask the MSM (main stream media) why they don’t promote more socially positive agendas and the answer would be similar: “no advertising revenue.

Fifty years ago Packard asked the question that Americans as a society have yet to hear:

What will happen to the dignity of man if he finds that his contribution is to be a consumer rather than as a creator.

Ground down, again

The economy continues to whipsaw the ordinary citizen.

In 1960 Packard reported that “A survey by insurance companies revealed that the average American family was about three months from bankruptcy. That was its cushion against disaster after two decades of unparalleled prosperity. For millions of families—especially for many living in suburban subdivisions—the brink of disaster was much closer. They were so pressed in meeting their host of monthly instalment charges that they were stopping smoking temporarily or putting their wives to work or seeking debt-consolidation loans, or all three.”

Eight years later, in 1968, Ferdinand Lundberg began his book The Rich and the Super-Rich with:

“Most Americans—citizens of the wealthiest, most powerful and most ideal-swathed country in the world—by a wide margin own nothing more than their household goods, a few glittering gadgets such as automobiles and television sets (usually purchased on the instalment plan, many at second hand) and the clothes on their backs….At the same time, a relative handful of Americans are extravagantly endowed, like princes in the Arabian Nights tales. Their agents deafen a baffled world with a never-ceasing chant about the occult merits of private property ownership…It would be difficult in the 1960s for a large majority of Americans to show fewer significant possessions if the country had long labored under a grasping dictatorship.”

Twenty years after that Thomas Byrne Edsall wrote in an Atlantic article titled "The Return of Inequality":

"The great bulk of Americans are losing economic and political power, while the affluent are gaining both. This is not a recipe for social comity."

Twenty years after that, today, the economic slide continues for the ordinary American.

Unhealthy health care

President Obama continues to try to reform American health care—resisted by many who would benefit, but who, brainwashed by the MSM have come to believe that any government action is virtually one step away from communism. The American health care disaster was foreseen by Packard. On drugs, he said “it is a travesty of free enterprise when twenty-five companies are issuing essentially the identical drug under twenty five different names at greatly varying prices. Word artists invent the brand names and often try to make them sound like some other highly successful drug….In a rational society, I would think, the medical profession would arrange for a simple way to get pure, high-quality drugs to the public at a cost not inflated by rival-brand promotional activities.”

When did the decline of America begin? Depending on how you look at it, the above scenario suggests that it probably began in the 1930s. I will consider that briefly in Part 2, but I will argue in the next Part that the seeds of American decline were sown even before July 4, 1776.

(To be concluded in Part 2)

Daniel Johnson was born near the midpoint of the twentieth century in Calgary, Alberta. In his teens he knew he was going to be a writer, which explains why he was one of only a handful of boys in his high school typing class—a skill he knew was going to be necessary. He defines himself as a social reformer, not a left winger, the latter being an ideological label which, he says, is why he is not an ideologue, although a lot of his views could be described as left-wing. He understands that who he is, is largely defined by where he came from. The focus for Daniel’s writing came in 1972. After a trip to Europe he moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. Alberta, and Calgary in particular, was extremely conservative Bible Belt country, more like Houston than any other Canadian city (a direct influence of the oil industry). Two successive Premiers of the province, from 1935 to 1971, had been Baptist evangelicals with their own weekly Sunday radio program—Back to the Bible Hour, while in office. In Alberta everything was distorted by religion.

Although he had published a few pieces (unpaid) in the local daily, the Calgary Herald, it was not until 1975 that he could actually make a living from journalism when, from 1975 to 1981 he was reporter, photographer, then editor of the weekly Airdrie Echo. For more than ten years after that he worked with Peter C. Newman (1979-1993), Canada’s top business writer (notably a series of books, The Canadian Establishment). Through this period Daniel also did some national radio and TV broadcasting with the CBC. You can write to Daniel at:

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Century25 December 15, 2009 4:52 pm (Pacific time)

Yes.. the slobbering greed of capitalism has destroyed the US. Eviscerated like the 'golden goose'... We are overpopulated, the jobs.. 'outsourced' - that is a euphemism for what they did, which of course was to exploit child labor or other sweatshop labor.. at the expense of stealing our jobs. Also, as Eisenhower warned JFK and the people: Beware the monster.. the Military-Industry Complex.. It is way too late for us. The damage is mortal.. we are heading for 2nd world status already. In fact - we are.. 'there'...

Daniel October 5, 2009 12:47 pm (Pacific time)

Greg many people come to the USA because they are at the bottom of the system they lived in . Billions thru out the developed world rather stay at home . The poor of the world love the prospect of making good money , for some any money and flock to the wealthy nations . A great deal of our wealth has been poorly used and often destroyed or poisoned .China and India produce our steel , industrial , tech ,and consumer goods .The USA sells them our natural resourses , from trees to real estate . Greg you and I have both been sold out , but you still dont get it .

Greg October 1, 2009 9:00 am (Pacific time)

Free market capitalism juxtaposed with our form of government has allowed the individual to be highly productive which has led to our country becoming literally the best place in the world to pursue happiness. Are people coming here, legally and illegally because opprotunity is lacking? Many countries in the world have natural resources as good as ours if not better. Take the central and Imperial valleys of California, they are not areas in their natural state that would allow for intense cultivation. Our development projects took potential resources and made them work, all over the country. Making a profit is what makes thing work and feeds our people here and around the world. When a strong central government intervenes is when we get in trouble. Adam Smith had it right, unfortunately the "tax and spenders" don't understand what he was referencing, nor many other people who use his name it appears.

Ersun Warncke September 30, 2009 2:31 pm (Pacific time)

The idea that "capitalism" advances society is fatally flawed. How do you define capitalism? I would challenge you to define this term as anything other than an empty slogan.

If by capitalism you mean "free markets" in the Adam Smith sense, the United States is not a free market society by any stretch of the imagination. 40% of the GDP is allocated by governments, and the bulk of the rest is centrally directed through the private corporatist administrative structure.

If you mean "capitalism" in the sense of a hustler economy run by financial institutions and based primarily on speculation and fraud, then that might be a more accurate description of the U.S. economy. How that has advanced society, I am not really sure.

Perhaps you can call increasing debt progress.

The United States is wealthy for one reason: we are sitting on the most massive piece of productive land in the world. We have no enemies and we are capable of being totally self-sufficient within our territory.

It is in spite of this "capitalist" nonsense that the U.S. remains wealthy, simply because of its enormous natural endowments. (we can ignore for the moment how these were originally acquired)

To say that capitalism has made America great is an absurdity. How can the unproductive activity of a bunch of con artists and hustlers contribute to society?

The concept of a free market is based on the idea of people producing and exchanging things. Capitalism, in the American sense, is based on the idea of people cheating other people out of what is theirs.

Daniel: Well said, Ersun. Wait for Part 2, due in a day or so. Ferdinand Lundberg, on this very topic, said in 1968 in The Rich and the Super-Rich

“Whereas European royalty and nobility played profound integral roles in European history, the latter-day American rich were more like hitchhikers who opportunistically climbed aboard a good thing. They produced neither the technology, the climate, the land, the people nor the political system. Nor did they, like many European groups (as in England) take over the terrain as invading conquerors. Rather did they infiltrate the situation from below, insinuate themselves into opportunely presented economic gaps, subvert various rules and procedures, and, as it were ride a rocket to the moon and beyond, meanwhile through their propagandists presenting themselves, no less, as the creators of machine industrialization which was in fact copied from England and transplanted into a lush terrain.”

Daniel September 29, 2009 9:04 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel J you get the blue star for reaching # 50 ! The only way the USA can pull ourselves out is by creating new future technology . The past has moved to China and India , I worry the future will also .Looking at the photo on the book I wonder the value of the cars today if they were maintained.

Phil September 29, 2009 9:34 am (Pacific time)

Daniel one of my biggest concerns about our future economic well being is that the stock market is being fed by artificial demand, courtesy of the Federal Reserve. There is nothing tangible in terms of earnings or sales growth to back it up. Nothing. Employment is still declining and the companies that laid people off have no plans to hire anyone back, not soon, but ever (unless they happen to live in Latin America, the Philippines, or India, that is). If new taxes are thrust on small businesses, they will unlikely be hiring new people but likely reducing their workforce by either termination or shorter work hours. This unemployment situation needs to be addressed immediately, and so far we have seen that the Stimulus Bill passed earlier this year (remember hurry and pass it or the unemployment rate will reach 8%) has essentially been a major failure. Even releasing the balance of funds will do nothing for long term unemployment, much less in creating jobs in the private sector where real wealth is created. We have a proven economic template on how to ameliorate this situation. So as mentioned earlier, what is the endgame of those in power?

Phil September 29, 2009 6:48 am (Pacific time)

Daniel I think you have some great viewpoints and it really helps to stimulate interesting debate. I agree with the below comment that "capitalism" has advanced the human condition more than any other method, especially here in the states. Capitalism is the oldest form of commerce, as you know. Even many of those that fall below our [subjective] poverty line fair better than the middleclass in many western countries, not to mention the vast majority of the world's population. True fact that we are becoming more and more a global economy, but it is our government structure working in tandem with capitalism that make us unique to the rest of the world. Considering that all the people on the planet are equal, we have the same DNA, then why are we so succssful? What makes us different? Look to our Bill of Rights and our Constitution, it is about the "individual" pursuit of life, liberty and happiness. And from there we have developed a wonderful society that provides quite well for our people. Sure we have inequities, but we have methods available to constantly improve that situation. Nothing is perfect. We will have future problems if government continues to grow for that will diminish individal freedoms, and it is those freedoms that have made us the great country we are. As far as the current conflicts causing this recession, well that is simply pretty difficult to prove looking at our history for say just the last 60 years. There are many other variables that got us into this situation. Keep in mind that during WWII are economy grew, and the Korean and Vietnam Conflict, which were far more expensive in lives and treasury than current conflicts did not injure the economy in a significant way. Bad fiscal policies have been the root cause of our current economic downturn that began before the 9/11 attack. Daniel this report just came out today: "Even in the midst of one of the greatest challenges to capitalism in 75 years, involving a breakdown of the financial system due to “irrational exuberance,” greed and the weakness of regulatory systems, European Socialist parties and their left-wing cousins have not found a compelling response, let alone taken advantage of the right’s failures. German voters clobbered the Social Democratic Party on Sunday, giving it only 23 percent of the vote, its worst performance since World War II. Voters also punished left-leaning candidates in the summer’s European Parliament elections and trounced French Socialists in 2007. Where the left holds power, as in Spain and Britain, it is under attack. Where it is out, as in France, Italy and now Germany, it is divided and listless."

Riley September 28, 2009 5:55 pm (Pacific time)

"WASHINGTON (AP) - Big job losses and a spike in early retirement claims from laid-off seniors will force Social Security to pay out more in benefits than it collects in taxes the next two years, the first time that's happened since the 1980s." The above AP excerpt provides empirical evidence that cutting taxes brings in tax revenue based on wealth creation from a stimulated economy. It was in the early 1980's when America was suffering from an extreme economic downturn when social security was running a deficit as today and they lowered taxes that turned around the economy, but no one is cutting taxes now, they are increasing them wherever they can get away with it. Please note that Obama stated that he will not sign any legislation regarding healthcare if it raises taxes. As he noted during the time he was campaigning that raising taxes during a recession is the wrong thing to do.

Daniel: I'm sorry Riley, but you sound like a brainwashed Republican to me. Here's what Bob Herbert said in his May 1, NYT column:

"The economy has imploded, the auto industry is in danger of being vaporized and more than half of all working Americans are worried that they may lose their jobs in the next year. So what’s the Republican response? To build a wall of obstruction in front of efforts to get the economy moving again, and then to stand in front of that wall chanting gibberish about smaller government, lower taxes, spending cuts and Ronald Reagan."

You saying that your AP quote is empirical evidence is true, but it's empirical evidence only for itself. We live in a global economy and everything is connected. And you can't trust economists to get us out of this mess. If they knew what to do, we wouldn't be in this mess. Check out the concept of Chaos. Changes in one place, create unexpected effects elsewhere. That's why economists can't predict very well. They (most of them) believe that the economy is like a big machine running on cause and effect and that economic players are rational. Neither assumption is accurate.

Here's philosopher Edward Heath: “In a properly structured market, firms should be indifferent to environmental regulation. The problem is that markets are often not properly structured. As long as oil companies were making leaded fuel, they were not paying the true cost that the manufacture of their product imposed upon society. This is because of the negative externality—the airborne lead emissions. As a result, society was consuming ‘too much’ gas. Eliminating the externality should therefore reduce total demand for gasoline and increase the demand for other fuel sources. This is why the oil companies and refiners were opposed. They were profiting from the public bad. Thus opposition from business to regulation is often a sign that the regulation is a good idea and is likely to improve the overall efficiency of the economy.”

Riley September 28, 2009 3:21 pm (Pacific time)

Editor I see some of what you are saying, but cutting spending is just as easy as maintaining the status quo with present expenditures plus factoring in current inflation levels with present budgets. As you know the government is doing that now with COLA raises for both social security and veteran disability benefits, that is no increases. Pretty unfair, but that is happening. They are in effect cutting spending. In regards to components of my other comments please see how I used the Great Depression from the 1930's to illustrate that no war expenditures were involved, but still we had a huge economic downturn. Then with Vietnam, a much larger war than current conflicts, and a far greater loss of life, there was no depression involved, though a few years after we pulled out from there, the begining of a recession was taking place and in time we had an unemployment rate similar to now. By cutting taxes we stimulated the economy which created millions of jobs and brought in much needed tax revenue. This is not a "knee-jerk solution" in that we have a historical record of this working twice in similar conditions when JFK (though economy no where near as bad) and Reagan cut taxes, each time it was via a democratic congress. Economic variables are highly dynamic in nature and for each economist you have out there you will have a different solution, but history is what it is and essentially it is history that provides much of our guidance. This upcoming January will no doubt be a very divisive election in Oregon because it will be clearly about one thing: Tax cuts or increases. Then whomever prevails we will have some results that can bolster one sides argument over the opposing side.

Daniel: The election probably will be divisive as you say, and it will be around money, the medium of capitalism. What I think it should be about (here in Canada, as well): How can we stay together as a humane and civilized society?

Capitalist September 28, 2009 3:08 pm (Pacific time)

No other economic process has advanced the "human condition" further than Capitalism. In fact all other economic processes have failed miserably in comparison.

Daniel: I challenge you to actually read Packard's book. Capitalism has advanced society in so many harmful ways that benefit only a few. But you wouldn't know anything about that, would you.

Riley September 28, 2009 11:13 am (Pacific time)

Lowering taxes has nothing to do with the notion that America is different now than it was in the 1980's, which of course it is in many different cultural and technological ways. There is a clear history that lowering taxes has stimulated economic recoveries, while there is no history showing that increasing taxes stimulates the economy. If one has an example where this has happened please share that info with me. Our country has been in many wars but though they have cost us dearly in both precious lives and considerable treasury we have essentially just had very brief recessions during and after. Many of those up and downs when graphed out over time show that this happens even during times when no wars have been going on, that is normal economic cycles. The war in Vietnam was much more costly in terms of both lives and treasury compared to our current conflicts so going by previous assertions we would have been in a full blown depression during the late 1970's. Of course the stock market crash of 1929 was a time far removed from WWI. There has been much academic study that suggests that it was economic policies that steered us into a recession, eventually promulgating a depression. Could our current situation be similar? There was an approximate 4% unemployment rate a few years ago, plus the stock market was over 13,000, and even briefly crossed over 14,000. Looking at what has happened in the last two years may provide some variables that have adversely impacted our economy at all levels, local and national, but one thing for sure, raising taxes does nothing to create jobs, whereas cutting spending and lowering taxes does, thereby increasing tax revenue. In fact one would be hard pressed to show where the latter does not work.

Riley: You're mixing several issues. Lowering taxes would necessitate either cutting spending or borrowing more (probably from China). So cut spending? Where? You sound like one of those doctrinaire “I’m okay, Jack” anti-tax conservatives who has no understanding of the bigger picture by suggesting, simple, knee-jerk solutions to what is a global problem. The essential point you do not address is that America is in a hell of a mess basically because of the choices made by the Bush crowd. Cut spending? Withdraw from both Iraq and Afghanistan, unilaterally. That would virtually solve America’s financial problems at a stroke. Well? Daniel

Matt September 28, 2009 11:00 am (Pacific time)

Greatly enjoyed your article and look forward to Part 2. I am in Vancouver, BC also - are there local papers that you write for also?

Richard September 28, 2009 9:43 am (Pacific time)

It's more than a little telling that, in the aftermath of 9/11/2001, George Bush and his administration implored Americans to "get on with your life - go shopping, or the terrorists win". No need to look any further back than that to figure it out.

Daniel Johnson September 28, 2009 8:45 am (Pacific time)

The main stream media have not failed Americans, Erna. It's not their job to undermine their own system. You have have to adopt the strategy of the old gum commercial. You tell two friends, and they tell two friends and so on and so on. Just like when America was founded--word of mouth can be a powerful communication method.

Erna September 28, 2009 7:02 am (Pacific time)

The average American needs more of the truth this article outlines. Maybe then, will the Majority come to the conclusion, we all are blinded by false illusions and governed by the 1% wealth and corporate greed.

Daniel Johnson September 27, 2009 4:47 pm (Pacific time)

Phil: You write: "We know historically what works so why are they doing the opposite of that? What is their endgame? No country in the history of the world has ever taxed themselves into prosperity. It's amazing to me that liberals prefer policies that increase dependency, as opposed to those that increase opportunity."

Several flaws in your agument. You cannot repeat history. That was then, this is now. America today, has only a passing resemblance to America of the 1980s.

Taxes? The primary reason taxes are sky high and likely to remain so for a long time stem from the actions of the Bush crowd. Those are things that cannot be undone.

First, they intentionally did not regulate the financial industry which will cost ordinary Americans, people like yourself Phil, at least a trillion dollars.

Then there is the bogus war in Iraq--at least another trillion dollars plus all the potential tax dollars lost from the thousands of soldiers who went over and never came back, or came back unable to work to their former potential and pay more taxes.

If you have other refutations, please respond.

Phil September 27, 2009 11:27 am (Pacific time)

Let's take a more scientific analysis on what is really hurting the American economy and what the future portends with the economic policies coming out of congress and the whitehouse. "The dead end kids (Effects of raising minimum wage, 52.2% unemployment) The New York Post ^ | 9/27/09 | RICHARD WILNER The unemployment rate for young Americans has exploded to 52.2 percent -- a post-World War II high, according to the Labor Dept. -- meaning millions of Americans are staring at the likelihood that their lifetime earning potential will be diminished and, combined with the predicted slow economic recovery, their transition into productive members of society could be put on hold for an extended period of time. And worse, without a clear economic recovery plan aimed at creating entry-level jobs, the odds of many of these young adults -- aged 16 to 24, excluding students -- getting a job and moving out of their parents' houses are long. Young workers have been among the hardest hit during the current recession -- in which a total of 9.5 million jobs have been lost." Back in the 1980's the average unemployment rate was similar to what it is now, plus the interest rate reached 22% and gas prices were sky high. So what was the policy that changed that situation? We cut taxes and by 1988 over 21 million new jobs were created. The largest peace-time expansion of our nations economy. So what are the policies now? We know historically what works so why are they doing the opposite of that? What is their endgame? No country in the history of the world has ever taxed themselves into prosperity. It's amazing to me that liberals prefer policies that increase dependency, as opposed to those that increase opportunity.

Ersun Warncke September 26, 2009 1:17 pm (Pacific time)

Thorstein Veblen's "Theory of the Leisure Class" and "Theory of Business Enterprise" are also both classics in this field. For the modern audience, the documentary films of Adam Curtis, especially "The Century of Self" and "The Trap" provide profound insights into the social/psychological dimensions of the capitalist economic system. Both of those film series' are freely available on google video or via bittorrent for anyone interested.

Anonymous September 25, 2009 1:15 pm (Pacific time)

Daniel: from anon 11:35. sounds good,looking forward to it. :-) thanks

Daniel Johnson September 25, 2009 12:26 pm (Pacific time)

Anonymous: Wait for Part 2.

Anonymous September 25, 2009 11:35 am (Pacific time)

Lets discuss "democracy" first. 51% rule. The problem with democracy, is that those with the most money control everything. Buy the media, buy the pastors of churches, infiltrate the public education system with the billions of dollars, and hello, you are now dictator. The "republic" on the other hand, has rules. Not perfect, but a great start, and those rules can be challenged in a court of law, as time progresses. Now, "capitolism". Because of the above mentioned description of "democracy", capitolism cannot exist, and hasnt truly existed for more than a century. After 1913, capitolism became the child of democracy, which basically, made it null and void. I cant say for sure if true capitolism would work, but I do know, it hasnt been given a chance. True capitolism has not existed, as I noted, since 1913, probably a bit before that.

Daniel Johnson September 25, 2009 10:58 am (Pacific time)

Ah, gee, thanks, fellas! You're all so swell to get along with that maybe I'll do another 50! That'll teach ya.

Tim King September 25, 2009 9:23 am (Pacific time)

This is Daniel's 50th article on

Thank you Daniel for being part of our team and for the awesome friendship that it has allowed to develop. You are a star and your stories change people. Congratulations from everyone! 

Glen September 25, 2009 6:43 am (Pacific time)

Great article.

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