Friday, October 12, 2012

Economic Recovery in New Mexico

A Quick Note About "Jump Start"

This term typically describes a procedure to start a car engine when the battery is too weak to turn the starter motor.  If the car was recently driven to the place where it wouldn't start, that is, if the rest of the car's mechanics aside from the battery are functional,  the process is usually successful.  However, even though the car will start and run, the troubles with the battery may well make the remedy quite temporary.  In fact, the battery problem may well occur again as soon as the car is turned off the next time.

This may seem to be a strange way to start a MeanMesa post, but here we are.

If the New Mexico economy is the "car with the bad battery," the "jump start" idea may be overly optimistic.  This car hasn't moved for quite a while.

This all comes up now because we need to make a few comments about an editorial in the local news paper.  If you don't regularly read the Albuquerque Journal -- most citizens of Albuquerque don't -- you may have missed it.  Further, although MeanMesa may refer to the piece as an editorial, the Albuquerque Journal, infamous for having difficulty deciding such questions about "articles" and "editorials," placed it on the front page amid other "articles" which were, of course, also, perhaps, not "editorials."

The following disclaimer may help.  It's at the end of the "article."

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column.  Comment directly to Winthrop Quigley at 823-3896 or Go to to submit a letter to the editor.

Take a moment to read the "front page news and opinion column" here.

Proposals for Jump-Starting 
Recovery in New Mexico

The Albuquerque Journal
Winthrop Quigley
City Edition, October 2, 2012

The Journal's Economy Watch survey of local conditions and the University of New Mexico's economic development summit two weeks ago spur some thoughts about our excruciatingly slow rebound from the Great Recession.

People are nervous, even frightened.  Economy Watch shows Bernalillo County lost 2,700 jobs between the first quarters of 2011 and 2012.  1,500 of them were private sector jobs.  Personal income state wide is growing at about a third the pace one would expect during a robust recovery [1].

It may be small comfort, but it does pay to remember that the nation's economy has been improving for a few years now, albeit at a glacial pace, and that all economic cycles, both good and bad, reverse eventually [2].

Another bit of small comfort: A paper presented at last month's conference of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, said our nation's persistent unemployment is probably cyclical and not structural.  That means that given enough time, the economy will simply heal itself [3].

More comforting yet: UNM's summit, called to examine the university's role in improving the economy, was to attract 50 to 75 people.  About 400 showed up.  Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, who addressed the group, told me later this is big.  It shows that many people, not just government officials and economic development professionals, want to help get New Mexico moving.

Berry spends a lot of his time selling Albuquerque to out-of-state companies as a great place to expand or relocate.  He told the summit that the consultants who advise those companies track how states and cities tax businesses, the quality of the work forces and other factors.  A client tells the consultant what factors are most important, and the consultant goes through the check list and recommends the cities and states that meet a client's criteria.

Consultants and the companies they advise usually are impressed with Albuquerque's workforce and the quality of life, Berry said.  Some companies the mayor would like to attract, manufacturers in particular, never hear about Albuquerque because the consultants can't check off two items on their lists.

New Mexico doesn't allow a single sales factor when calculating corporate income tax, and we don't have a right to work law [4].  Absent those things, some companies won't even give us a look, he said.

A single sales factor lets companies pay tax only on income derived from sales within the state.  Companies that export most of what they make, Intel for one, would pay very little corporate income tax in New Mexico.  Right-to-work laws prohibit making union membership or payment of union dues a condition of employment.

Berry said both propositions are controversial.  It's the legislature's job and not his to implement them, and voters may not want them.  But, he said, reasonable people ought to be able to leave ideology at the door and have a conversation about what could improve New Mexico's economy, even if it means inviting a little controversy.  And if anyone has a better idea, Berry is all ears.

Berry's fellow Republican Gov. Susana Martinez also spoke.  She encouraged universities to develop synergies with national laboratories, an effort that has been going on for 30 years with only middling results.  Then, as she does at every speech I've heard her give, she said kids who can't read by third grade should be held back and under performing teachers should be called out.

If the Governor has a jobs policy, this would have been a good time to let us know what it is.

The summit promoted the rain forest model of economic development.  The model calls for the creation of "ecosystems" that help entrepreneurs thrive and companies grow.  It is inspired by the way the San Francisco Bay Area's Silicon Valley has done business for years.  Its foundation is encouraging trust among people.  Among the seven precepts of the rain forest approach are "experiment and iterate together," and "open doors and listen."

Not for the first time, I found myself thinking that New Mexico's economy is hostage to our culture, which is hostage to our history [5].

The San Francisco area developed a trader economy in the 19th Century built around the seaport.  Trading with people across the ocean whom you have never laid eyes on in the 19th Century required a great deal of trust.  Trust was part of the ecosystem long before anyone dreamed of Silicon Valley.

New Mexico in the 19th Century learned the lessons of mistrust.  People lived in isolated mountain valleys where they could find flowing water they protected from outsiders with their lives.  Property taxes were manipulated by politicians in league with speculators to throw farmers off their land.  Rail road, cattle and mining interests dictated governance.  Trade with the outside world didn't take off until after World War II.

There is nothing wrong with the rain forest model.  To implement it in New Mexico would require a cultural revolution.  I can think of few politicians and even fewer business people who are prepared to lead one.

UpFront is a daily front-page news and opinion column.  Comment directly to Winthrop Quigley at 823-3896 or Go to to submit a letter to the editor.

Taking a Closer Look

Although MeanMesa has no reluctance whatsoever in taking Mr. Quigley's comments under the microscope, there's little to be gained by limiting our review exclusively to him.  There are, clearly, many New Mexican residents and pundits who can sit with him quite comfortably in MeanMesa's "defendant's dock."

As we review Mr. Quigley's column, MeanMesa can strive to validate the tone of this post by looking for a larger picture, that is, although scrutinizing his comments, also seeking generalizations beyond his specific ideas. As is the case with much of the material similar to this, everything reads like the Boy Scout rule book.  The identical talking points have been repeatedly hammered down the throats of anyone who would listen to them.

 So, to begin, let's examine a few of them -- by the numbers.

[1.]  Personal income state wide is growing at about a third the pace one would expect during a robust recovery.

Personal income in New Mexico, the poorest state in the country, has never particularly grown during prosperity here or during a robust recovery in the rest of the country.  The State's unemployment was bad enough as the country entered the Great Republican Recession of 2008 that the downward change was actually less severe than what was encountered in more prosperous states.

The "this isn't a robust recovery" line is a rather road weary talking point borrowed from Rupert Murdoch and repeatedly parroted by both Governor Romney and his side kick.

[2.] ...all economic cycles, both good and bad, reverse eventually.

What is presently happening to the country is not a coincidental "economic cycle."  The economy was gang raped during the Bush W. autocracy.  Reframing the 2008 economic disaster as some sort of deterministic divine prank fails to convincingly disguise the criminal nature of its causes, although this overly generous characterization might possibly sell as persuasive in heavily Catholic, tragically low information, New Mexico.

Remember, this crack appeared on the front page of the Journal.

[3.] A paper ... said our nation's persistent unemployment is probably cyclical and not structural.  That means that given enough time, the economy will simply heal itself. 

If one is simply interested in promoting the faux-FOX image of the Obama Administration as ineffective and incompetent, what better arguments than:

a. the persistent unemployment is cyclical and not structural; and,
b. the economy is simply healing itself?

Really, Mr. Quigley?  Unemployment is not persistent, although it is quite durable this time.  It was caused by the Republican Administration of George W. Bush.  It is durable because the damage inflicted by W's oligarchs was so grave that the country is still staggering four years later.  $6 Tn worth of new Republican debt didn't help at all.

And, "the economy is simply healing itself?" Mr. Quigley!  The President's policies have nothing to do with it?  Tune your radio into FOX and lock your entire attention to it -- just be sure to discard any possible skepticism first.  You'll be surprised at how few join you in your "listening party."  That -- the quivering adolescent FOX hyperbole, the convenient departures from fact and the constant amalgamation of "interpreted" news and opinion -- worked for a while, but its thrall from the 2010's has now been cleansed by pain in most cases.

[4.] Some companies the mayor would like to attract, manufacturers in particular, never hear about Albuquerque because the consultants can't check off two items on their lists.

New Mexico doesn't allow a single sales factor when calculating corporate income tax, and we don't have a right to work law.

The voices which yearn so fervently for a return to the economy of the 1950's are always attracted to "supply side" anomalies.  In good times or bad times, ALEC in New Mexico (and, of course, everywhere else, too) continues with its relentless legislative opportunism.  If "People are nervous, even frightened." [second paragraph] ALEC's oligarchs see a ripe opening for promoting even more arcane supply side "relaxations" to increase profits.

"Relax" environmental regulations.

"Relax" unemployment benefit obligations.

"Relax" any reasonable hesitation about incentive "tax expenditures."

"Relax" labor rights for collective bargaining.

"Relax" due diligence over New Mexico State's oil investment fund.

The poorest state in the union should lower corporate taxes, right?  And, the poorest state in the union should pass a "right to work for less" law, right?

Otherwise, the corporatists who insist on these favors won't come here.  Okay.  Mr. Quigley and his ilk should probably consider making a nice long list of all the "high paying jobs" that have come to New Mexico -- and stayed in New Mexico -- because of the ALEC authored tax expenditures and legislative incentives.  The state ponies up $1.3 Bn annually in tax expenditures to incentivize new business here -- where is the new business?  [MeanMesa: Recalling Martinez]

 [Anyone interested in the local ALEC story might enjoy the MeanMesa post on the subject:
 ALEC in New Mexico - Anti-Democracy on the High Desert ]

[5.] Not for the first time, I found myself thinking that New Mexico's economy is hostage to our culture, which is hostage to our history.

Although MeanMesa very strongly agrees with Mr. Quigley's premise here, there's a little more to it than simply mouthing the words.  New Mexico's social culture truly does introduce obstacles to any path to a modern economy, but they are not supply side obstacles

The "elephant in the living room," at least, the largest of the elephants, is the tacit acceptance of poverty as an inescapable disadvantage by parochialized New Mexicans.  For six centuries they have been told -- every Sunday -- about the pious nature of suffering.

The "second largest elephant in the living room"  is the blinding illiteracy arising from a public educational system that has been in an over priced, flat line, failure state for decades.  New Mexico is so good at producing barely literate high schoolers that we could conceivably market it as a strategic weapon to be exported to any adversary the DOD desired to crush without firing a shot.

We've got poverty perfected to an exquisite state of refinement.  There are plenty of unwanted pregnancies, unemployable teen gangsters, horrendous policemen and under-20 heroin addicts, every one of them awash in the stark hopelessness of a social culture which is not only suspicious about, but essentially allergic to, any glimmer of economic prosperity. 

However, MeanMesa departs from Mr. Quigley's view right here.  Incorporating another truck load of ALEC legislation or bribing any more high tech manufacturers to come to New Mexico is not a solution.  This brutal approach is more akin to the annual cartoon with Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown.

These wretched policies do not roll in on the high desert wind. They might be ever so slightly more palatable if they were simply the machinations of New Mexico oligarchs, but they're not.  Time after time the State Treasury is gutted by the most recent "idea" emerging from the cess pools of the ALEC "think tanks."  Every time, the "idea" winds up draining money which could have actually accomplished something if it had been applied sensibly

New Mexicans can not and will not ever staff Silicon Valley factories here.  Most of the Round House bunch wouldn't recognize a capacitor if it were eating one of ALEC's budget proposals.  The federal laboratories are in New Mexico because they needed to be too far inland for the Japanese to bomb them before they could construct an A bomb.  It wasn't New Mexicans who were engineering and managing that effort -- those folks came from Princeton.

The Governor is worrying about how many third graders can read and how many teen agers in Espanola aren't addicted to heroin yet.

Thanks for sharing your great conversation with the Mayor, Mr. Quigley.  MeanMesa will be posting an alternate "jump start" proposal on this blog in a few days.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Let's Clear Up One Point

In an election cycle like this one the full collection of hypocrisies, deceptions and outright lies present a "bank of topics" which will fracture even the most determined intention of remaining on track.  MeanMesa understands this.

Furthermore, the next sentence will not begin with the word "but."

We may need to "wander around" a little, but the entire point in this post is one point.  This "point" of ours will have essentially nothing to do with the latest polls, the economy, foreign policy, tax policies or toxic religion.  

What's left?


If you're holding out for a "lolly pop" 7th grade civics paper, this may not be the right blog for you.

A Short History To Get Things Started

While the smoke was still rising from the wreckage of Pearl Harbor, the more reckless voices among the Japanese high command were toying with the idea of invading California.  The world had seen how the Imperial Japanese military had behaved in the conquered cities of Asia -- Singapore, Rangoon and Hong Kong.

Our "single point" draws us to this question:  "What do we think would have happened to the 'democratic process' in the Western part of the United States if the Japanese had managed to invade and hold it?"

Remarkably, there would probably have been elections -- just not elections particularly similar to what we would expect in the United States.  We need not speculate too much more.  

The "single point" is, simply, that the process of representational democracy which is made possible by the "engine" of free elections in this country would not have been possible.  The traditionally democratic process would have been constrained by all sorts of interests imposed by the invaders.

Whatever might have happened would not have had much to do with representational democracy.

A Few Fundamentals

The United States is a Republic.  The Republic is controlled by representatives elected in a democratic process.  Our Constitution spells this out in no uncertain terms.

The democratic process is front and center in elections held in the United States.  Every free citizen of the United States can go to the polls and cast a secret ballot.  The results of the election hand over essentially total legal power to the next elected United States government.  

Briefly put, that "total power" includes collecting and spending taxes, making war, writing laws and so on.  As citizens, we find the exercise of that power palatable because it derives its legitimacy from a majority of the votes cast.  The elections elect representatives of the people who cast the ballots.

After that, those representatives -- House members, Senators, Governors, State officials, and so on -- are empowered to run the government.

This is the Republic's Constitutional process of representative democracy.

As for fundamentals:

1. The United States is a democratic, Constitutional Republic.

2. The country's government is comprised of democratically elected representatives of all kinds who legally rule over the affairs of the country.

3. Any party which attempts to disrupt the free and fair election of representatives -- such as our fictional Japanese invaders -- is an anti-democracy force.

4. A force which strives to destroy, sabotage or deny the democratic process under which all free citizens have a legal right to vote has attacked the Republic.

5. When that force is an external force, a declaration of a state of war will result from such attempts to destroy the democracy.  When that force is a domestic force, an act of treason has occurred, and the parties responsible must face the judicial consequences of their actions in a court of law.

The Full Wages of Voter Disenfranchisement

Among the daily horrors inflicted on the Republic by the oligarchs who presently control the Republican Party is wide spread voter suppression and outright disenfranchisement.  Current estimates suggest that as many as three to five million free United States citizens will be unable to legally vote because of state voter disenfranchisement laws.

No, No, it's just politics.  If it were treason, someone would have told us.  (cartoon source)

One hundred million Americans know of this.  It is not a secret.

If the Japanese invasion of California had been successful, 20 million United States citizens would have been denied the right to cast a secret ballot in a free and fair election pursuant to the Republic's Constitution.  The remainder of the people of the United States would have known this.  The remainder of the population of citizens in the United States would have undoubtedly moved immediately to restore the democracy in the occupied territories.

The hundred million Americans who are now watching three to five million of their fellow citizens being disenfranchised are doing nothing.  We countenance treason.  Is there really room for a citizen to be a bit patriotic while, at the same time, countenancing treason?

Meanwhile, we sit, frightened, wondering what will come next.

Clearing Up the Point

The Supreme Court will not defend citizens' right to vote.  This means that it will not defend the Constitution.  When the Supreme Court is unwilling to defend the Constitution, it is unwilling to defend the Republic. 

When Republican state legislators have been purchased by ALEC, they conspire to disenfranchise legal voters.  The Republican governors don't stop them -- they join in to further the outrage.  This is an attack on the Constitution.  This is an attack on the Republic.

MeanMesa calls this treason and calls those who conduct this action traitors.

Hopefully, everyone gets the point.  If this stings your hide, you know where to find me.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

MeanMesa to the President: Some Debate Tips

 What Mitt Has To "Own"
Return all the missing things to their owner.

You have to talk to the hill billies, Barack.  (cartoon source)

By the numbers:

1.  When Mitt tells the next whopper

Perhaps a "proportional" and "Presidential" answer does, actually, lie somewhere between being a roll over and being an uppity black man, however a more populist approach is also possible.  The progressives in the audience want a "blood match."  Mitt's handlers want uppity.

We have to remember that almost everyone has already decided on their vote.

So, how about:  "Well, you've convinced about half of the country that you aren't actually going to cut $5 Tn from the revenue with your 20% tax reduction.  I figure that the other half of the country already knows better.  My arithmetic is telling me that if you cut 20% from revenue that is going to amount to $5 Tn dollars.  If you have some other way to figure this out to come up with a different answer, it's time you told us."

"There's no telling what you actually plan to do of course.  But, if we cut $5 Tn from the tax revenue in a budget that is already borrowing 40%, we're either going to need to borrow it or gut all the programs that middle class tax payers are paying for now.  We're not only running out of folks who want to lend us money like that, but I think we're also running out of tax payers who want to pay their taxes and not get anything back."

2.  Make Mitt own the National Republican Party

Republican Senators and Congressmen have made a totally unmanageable list of bizarre proposals and statements along with proposing an equally bizarre string of legislative bills.  The House has been especially bad about this.  The incentives to behave this way come from being inside the "FOX bubble."  These statements and bills need to be dragged out of the "FOX bubble" into the light where everyone is faced with a decision to either live with them or not.

Mitt has to either own or disown the Republican Senators.  It's only fair for Mitt to have a chance to say which way he's choosing to go.  If he jumps into the clown car, he pays the price.  If he disavows any responsibility for what members of his Party are doing and saying, who is left in charge of the Republican Party?  There actually are such things as accountability and discipline.

It's no secret that Mitt wants the Republican Party to control the government.  Is the "free for all" just going to keep going like it is now?

How does Mitt feel about Wall Street and bank regulations?  He has said that he wants to get rid of them.  Is he willing to "own" this position?  American voters already lost around 40% of their total wealth the last time.

3.  Make Mitt Own the State Republican Parties

The GOP's biblical "War on Women" has been conducted at the state by state level where Republicans have taken control.  What does Mitt think about all of this?  More importantly, what does he think about these state level actions one by one -- item by item?

Does Mitt support the 1,100 bills passed by these Republican state legislatures aimed at undoing Roe vs. Wade?  Forced attendance at trans-vaginal ultra sound movies?  There are entire states under Republican control that are flat out eliminating all access to reproductive health services.  Does Mitt support this?  What does Mitt think is going to happen in these places?  Does Mitt support that?

GOP controlled states have been suppressing the voters who might vote against them.  Does Mitt support that?  He hasn't spoken against it!  Would he like to speak in favor of it or against it right now?  Where does he stand?  Voters have a right to know where he stands.

How about Mitt and ALEC?  More and more voters now understand that ALEC is the origin of laws like Florida's "If I feel threatened, I can shoot you" law.  ALEC is also known to be the backbone promoting the wild anti-organized labor laws being passed in Republican controlled states.  Does Mitt want labor unions suppressed?  

ALEC is the source of the ultra-smelly "relaxation bills" which have been emerging state by state where Republicans have taken control -- especially the "relaxation" of environmental protection bills that cost polluters money.

There is probably no more scandalous avenue for oligarch dollars to find their way into state elections than via ALEC.  Does Mitt think that this is healthy for democracy?  He either does, or he doesn't.  He needs to say -- or, very visibly -- not answer.

4.  Make Mitt Own His Policy "Fluidics"

Mitt is standing there on that debate stage with a huge collection of violently contradictory policy statements.  We could careen through this list, but why bother?  Mitt has to "own" his contradictions.   Just as much, he has to "own" whatever remnant of his policy is not contradictory.  It's fair game to ask him what parts of his policy statements he has not contradicted.

Are you a different kind of Republican than George W. Bush?

Do you think "trickle down" worked?

Are there any details about the Republican health care plan?  Your plan in Massachusetts included abortions and birth control.  Does your new plan include these same things?  You once said that you would support Roe vs. Wade as "settled law."  How firm is your new position, Mitt?

Also, while you were Governor, you signed laws controlling firearms.  Since then, you've changed your mind.  How firm is your new position on gun control?

5.  The Full Scope of the Bush Economy

Say it.  This country is still staggering after the blow inflicted by the Bush W. administration.  The economy of Europe was also damaged.  American voters underestimate the scope of the damage.

The bank account [Treasury] is $14 Tn overdrawn -- about $6 Tn worth of debt during the last administration -- all of it since the 1980's..

The cash register is empty.  Various Republicans including Paul Ryan -- took plenty of stimulus.

There aren't enough customers to make the economy run.  Lots of Americans don't have money to spend.  Those who do are scared by what just happened last time.  Because of what finally exploded in 2008, middle class Americans lost 40% of their wealth -- their home equity, their pensions, their health insurance plans and their savings.  Many of them lost their houses and their jobs.

When will Democrats quit blaming George W. Bush?  When he and his friends return the money.

6.  Make Mitt own the Ryan Budget

Mitt said that he thought it was fabulous.  Is he "on board" with all of it?  Has he dumped parts of it?  Doesn't the Ryan Budget include the 20% tax cut? 

By the way, a 20% tax cut reduces the revenue for the Federal Government by $5 Tn in 10 years.  Does Mitt have a plan?  Is Mitt firm on that?

The Ryan Budget includes the proposal for "vouchers" to replace Medicare.
Is Mitt firmly on board with that?

The Ryan Budget permanently ends Planned Parenthood.  Does Mitt have a plan for women's health care?  Is Mitt firm on that?

The Ryan Budget reduces the total block of safety net programs by 16%.  This includes food stamps, housing assistance and earned income deductions.  Is this also Mitt's plan?

The Ryan Budget reduces investment in transportation by 25%.  Does Mitt want to cut this, too?

The Ryan Budget reduces federal support for general science, space programs and basic technology development by 6%. Is Mitt firm on this?

The Ryan Budget reduced expenditures for education, training, employment and social services of all kinds by 33%.  With math and science grades at all time lows, does Mitt think this is a good idea?

Mitt has to either "own" every one of these or present his alternatives.  It's either fabulous or it's not, in which case it's something else.  If it's something else, what is that?

7. Tactics on the Stage

Don't speak longer.  If Romney starts ham hogging the debate time, become harsher and more direct but stay rigidly inside the time limits.  There are plenty of things that Mitt will have to dodge the instant after you say them.  You need to say them.

 Every time you look at the camera and smile, your national poll numbers go up.

Savage Republicans in the Senate.  Mitt either agrees with them or he doesn't.  He needs to say.  For example, what does Mitt think about Mitch McConnell's "one term President" crack?  What does Mitt think about a record number of filibusters?

Help yourself to a few MeanMesa "zingers," Mr. President.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Congressional "Chicken" Comes Home to Roost

Spelling It Out:
How In The World Did All This "Happen?"

With a public approval rating at a single digit and national voters completely irritated with its absolute refusal to act for economic recovery, the US House continues to meander through day after day of naming post offices, passing impossible abortion laws and suffocating state efforts to maintain even a minimal staff of civil servants such as teachers, policemen and fire fighters.  On the days when no additional wreckage is being added to the national land fill, the House's days are packed with rejections of Sharia Law, repeated, wild chest beating reaffirmations of total allegiance to the war mongers currently in command of Israel and adolescent bellicosity for Iran.

It is a disaster.  It is sickening. It is un-American.  Depending on which definition you might prefer, we may as well call it treason.

The President has illuminated this bizarre lack of Congressional interest a number of times, possibly with some fleeting hope of spurring action from the recalcitrant ideologues, but his actions have brought no results.  Opinion polls, usually measurements of trends vitally interesting to incumbent Congressmen, are impotent irritants to the House tea bags. 

Their dilapidated "train wreck" will continue with its fits and starts right out to the horizon, on the same tracks, with the same policy and bathed in the same blistering hubris.  House Republicans are, at their own peril, still listening exclusively to the 15% of voters who home school, square dance and drink beer at shabby American Legion bars across the country.

These complaints are nothing new.  Further, there is nothing news worthy about them which could possibly make them merit "topic status" for a MeanMesa posting.

Normally, at just about this point, MeanMesa would propose some sort of solution to this dilemma, but this time, that isn't required.  Everyone who visits here knows exactly how to solve this problem.  There's no valid reason to add paragraph after paragraph of riling laments, so let's take a different track.

Let's look at where we might have been right now if the House tea bags had not obstructed every possible remedial plan in the sordid company of their Senatorial counterparts who immediately filibustered anything which escaped the death grip of the political hill billies controlling the Congress.

First of all, we need a "big picture."

These people have all of our tax money.  We can't do anything until they agree to cooperate.  This would be representational democracy if these folks in the House were trying hard to get things moving again, however, their continuing, constant refusal to allow any of our money to be applied to any proposal which might ease the pangs of this depression -- unquestionably a depression caused by them -- is beyond felonius extortion.

It's as if they somehow assumed that they would never need our votes again.

We have to wonder just what they might have in mind.

GOP Strategies, Perceptions and Misperceptions 

It's easy enough to fall into an infatuation with the "usual suspects" among liberal complaints.  One needn't walk far at all before the conversation turns to the rapacious 1%, the corrupt banksters, the thoroughly cratered health care system, Big Oil or the Defense Procurement Scams.  However, as proverbial laments might go, when we find ourselves becoming too comfortable with just cooling our feet in the mud, we may lose sight of the lake just beyond.

To depart from this dismal abyss, let's take a look at some specifics about where we would be if the Congress had been working to rehabilitate the depression economy the out of control Republicans created less than a decade ago.  We must remember -- that as a very successful national economy -- there is no particularly persuasive reason to assume that we should necessarily be plummeting into the suffocating grey pain of wild austerity panic.

Somewhere between Bangor and San Diego the incredible wealth we took for granted only a few years back must still exist -- even if it has been hidden from view or occupies different pockets.  Likewise, as is the case with all recessions, the clear dilemma lies in demand while the "low hanging fruit" solution-wise always appears to be couched, somehow, in supply.

This current, skillfully orchestrated, recession, while much more vicious than most, is no exception.

The supply side, if it were to function within the bounds of ideological, theoretical, policy "purity," would argue that over spending has produced unmanageable debt which has introduced a high interest liability which, in turn, resulted in high cash service costs, retracting credit offerings and, ultimately, the collapse of the economy.

"Boiled down to the bones," this would simply mean that since we were clearly not interested in  operating the county's government based on its tax revenue, we were determined to operate it on borrowed money instead.  When the debt became so unmanageably high and interest rates increased in a corresponding way, this policy began to cost too much.

GOP-Tea Bag Truck Driving School (image source)

The specific part of "cost too much" has to do with credit.  With the startling redistribution of wealth upward during the Bush autocracy, the "operating capital" of the country became stranded in the pockets of the politically connected class who have very little incentive to "operate" in this country. It followed the jobs to distant factories becoming the credit which lubricated these obviously temporary, foreign investments.

Enthralled under the hypnotic spell of finally relegating the economic remnant of the US's previously dynamic economic position into a slowly dwindling consumption market, the prospect of producing in the labor wastelands abroad then selling here found a mortally grisly match with the traditional short sightedness of the oligarch class.

Some part of the "profit" would be extracted from producing shoddy American consumer goods at 30% of the domestic cost and selling them as bargains at 80% of the "old price."  The remainder of the "profit" would be extracted from the interest paid on the credit used to purchase these goods by consumers who still had buying habits left over from the days when they were drawing reasonable pay checks.

Although this overly simplified explanation has merit as a "fundamental cause," there were, naturally, a million other "moving parts," most of which had something to do with individual profit opportunities.  Some of the "moving parts," although costly in terms of actual cash or social enmity, were ideological opportunities which would not have ever been palatable in better times.

We can squarely tie everything from voter suppression to anti-abortion hyperbole to the economic disaster.  None of these sorts of things would have offered a satisfactory "return on investment" had such efforts been made in better times.  In this collection of "less than desirable" diagonal opportunities which have only now surfaced amid the calamity, we can also include other, otherwise more subtle, causes such as the suddenly active, drastic, social re-engineering ambitions of the oligarchs and even a good few of the arcane economic "happenings" associated with the first "nips of the wringer" coming with the serious, rapidly approaching, global climate change.

These were all the imminent dangers Republicans were prepared to manipulate for their stated political ambitions.  These dangerous maladies were the tools in the Republican "tool kit" which would be used as a means to sustain desperately poor economic conditions long enough to recapture the White House and Congress.

Polishing Up the Disasters For the 2012 Election

The Republican political problem arose on two fronts.

First, when any group brazenly embraces such powerfully destructive forces for some purpose other than mitigating the threat -- in this case, for the purpose of artificially maintaining economic collapse for political reasons -- everyone else will steadfastly hope that they actually know what they're doing.  It turns out that the Republicans had, in a way quite consistent with their contemporary record,  no idea how to handle and manipulate such power.

Second, the actual policy was to be one thing, that is, the political manipulation of the economy, while the perception of resultant events was intended to be quite another.  For this side of the challenge, Republicans relied on their well developed "imaging factory" along with an obedient mass media.  Their scheme required an effective management of the perception of events, a task they obviously considered "doable" given the paucity of information held by majority of voters they intended to deceive.

We see the very reasonable course of this last strategy unfolding today.  The Republican campaigns had hoped that the superficial messaging would still be effective over the low information crowd primarily because their economic sabotage would have "softened up" what might have otherwise been a problem with common sense.

However, the "softening up" effort has begun to produce an abiding distaste rather than an increase in political compliance, and the "common sense" problem has apparently exceeded their strategic calculations.  The GOP campaign problem lies in the middle ground between the now out of control "softening up" and unexpectedly high levels of common sense in response to it.  The tea bag amateurs were not competent to direct -- or even contain -- the "softening up" they unleashed.

There's nothing particularly promising about voters discussing their bruises while waiting to vote.