America's War

Austerity VS Stimulus Spending Now

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America's War

#1  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » Apr 29, 2013 4:10 am

Some may not be aware, but a raging political battle has been going on in America that pits conservatives and extremists against more moderate voices vis-à-vis economic policy. The former are known as “Austerians” and the latter are described as “Kenseyians.” Austerians contend that in a time of economic stagnation and high unemployment, what needs to be done is to zero out deficit spending and cut overall spending to the bone, or deeper, except when it comes to the Pentagon.

The Kenseyians argue that no, the opposite policy is what’s needed to get the economy going again, that is, stimulus spending. They point to the failure of austerity in the UK and Europe, including especially in Spain and Portugal and Greece, but not leaving Italy or Ireland out.

All the players on the American political stage are deeply engaged in this war, Obama, Boehner, Pelosi and Reid, Geithner, Ben Bernanke. But the war also rages between professional economists, with Paul Krugman of Princeton and Paul Stiglitz of Columbia the standard bearers and leading academic voices for the Kenesyians and conservative economists like Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart (both of Harvard) leading the Austerians.

Suspicion has fallen on Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart because the penned a 2010 economic study that was the economic equivalent of the Bush administration's spurious claims about Iraqi WMDs. This study propelled nations into a war against government, and we may still be paying the price in unemployment and slow growth, as they certainly appear to be in Europe and in the UK. Now, these two economists have responded with a stubborn, pouting defense of their study that's as watery as their initial research, and it's worth calling them out on it, as Krugman does in the op-ed I’ve included here.

This war has reached a fever pitch, and aside from the Senate lifting the sequester on the FAA so they could once again fly when they wished, the Congress remains gridlocked over it, unable to go one way or another (except for the spending austerity imposed by the rest of the sequester, which has impacted several different services funded or provided by the government, including the Head Start program, which has been cancelled altogether.

This war won’t be won or lost any time soon, certainly not before the 2014 congressional elections and maybe not even until after the 2016 presidential election.

If you like wars, it can be kind of fun and interesting to follow this one. When it’s resolved, the outcome will both drive and shape America’s future for a very long time to come. Meanwhile, it will hamstring the President and leave him hardly able to act, or largely unable to do so.

Meanwhile, the public clamor for better gun laws and for some care to be shown for the long term unemployed and a devastated middle class will persist, not to mention action on the climate change front.

Here’s Krugman’s latest salvo.


Knaves, Fools, and Me (Meta)

By Paul Krugman
April 28, 2013, 8:01 am
http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/0 ... d-me-meta/

One criticism I face fairly often is the assertion that I must be dishonest — I must be cherry-picking my evidence, or something — because the way I describe it, I’m always right while the people who disagree with me are always wrong. And not just wrong, they’re often knaves or fools. How likely is that?

But may I suggest, respectfully, that there’s another possibility? Maybe I actually am right, and maybe the other side actually does contain a remarkable number of knaves and fools.

The first point to notice is that I do, in fact, perform a kind of cherry-picking — not of facts, but of issues to write about. There are many issues on which I see legitimate debate, from the long-run trend of housing prices to the effects of immigration on wages. And in happier times I would probably write more about such issues than I do, and the tone of my column and blog would be a lot more genteel. But right now I believe that we’re failing miserably in responding to economic disaster, so I focus my writing on attacking the doctrines and, to some extent, the people responsible for this wrong-headed response.

But can the debate really be as one-sided as I portray it? Well, look at the results: again and again, people on the opposite side prove to have used bad logic, bad data, the wrong historical analogies, or all of the above. I’m Krugtron the Invincible!

Am I (and others on my side of the issue) that much smarter than everyone else? No. The key to understanding this is that the anti-Keynesian position is, in essence, political. It’s driven by hostility to active government policy and, in many cases, hostility to any intellectual approach that might make room for government policy. Too many influential people just don’t want to believe that we’re facing the kind of economic crisis we are actually facing.

And so you have the spectacle of famous economists retreading 80-year-old fallacies, or misunderstanding basic concepts like Ricardian equivalence; of powerful officials instantly canonizing research papers that turn out to be garbage in, garbage out; and so on down the line.

I know, the critics will respond that I’m the one who’s being political — but again, look at how the debate has run so far.
The point is not that I have an uncanny ability to be right; it’s that the other guys have an intense desire to be wrong. And they’ve achieved their goal.

A punch to the gut.
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Re: America's War

#2  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » Apr 29, 2013 11:18 am

The beat goes on ...


Reality 1, Austerity 0
Robert Kuttner
April 29, 2013
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/?country=US

It's been a very bad week for the merchants of austerity. In Europe, the just-released statistics on first quarter performance show EU nations sliding deeper into recession. In Spain and Greece, unemployment rates are approaching a staggering 30 percent. In Britain, the Tory government took as good news the fact that the UK managed to eke out 0.3 percent growth. Even Germany, the prime sponsor of these policies, is on the edge of recession. You don't promote growth by slashing demand. Supposedly, fiscal tightening improves business confidence. But if some entrepreneur somewhere decided to break ground for a new factory because the president and Congress at last cut the budget, nobody could find such a person. Even the Washington Post editorial page, which has long been promoting a budget bargain built on more cuts, warned in its lead Sunday editorial, that austerity is pinching too hard -- in Europe, that is. How about at home?

Continues ...
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Re: America's War

#3  Postby Panderos » Apr 29, 2013 11:26 am

Or in the dick, as Loren Michael put it.

http://www.rationalskepticism.org/econo ... 38911.html

I'm not sure the two threads should be merged as this is a bit more political, but rather than repeating myself I'll just quote..

UtilityMonster wrote:
Panderos wrote:I've read This Time is Different which was the book by Rogoff and Reinhart, and I don't remember it being some pro-austerity piece.

What they said there, iirc, is that governments don't get out of debt by borrowing more. But they didn't then say governments need to cut all their spending either. They said that historically, governments have largely got out of debt in one way. And that is default - actual or effectively (through inflation/money printing).


I read that book as well. It wasn't a pro-austerity piece per se, and it actually stated explicitly that austerity reduces economic growth during downturns. However, by stating, as the book did, that growth plummets once a government's debt exceeds 90% of GDP, which has now been determined to just be an arbitrary line, they de facto made the claim that governments should implement austerity measures if stimulus spending would increase their debt burden over 90%.

Regardless of their intent, their book was heralded by advocates of austerity as advocating for their position, just like Hayek's book The Road to Serfdom has been taken by libertarians as suggesting that increases in government social program spending inevitably lead to a totalitarian state, despite the fact that many Hayek scholars say this is incorrect. R&R's case is not helped by the fact that they went on to explicitly advocate austerity in the Wall Street Journal using their research as the basis for their argument.
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Re: America's War

#4  Postby Weaver » Apr 29, 2013 11:27 am

It's not just "America's War" - have you looked at economic policy across Europe recently?

Austerians have had far too much influence, in spite of overwhelming negative results, all around the world.
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Re: America's War

#5  Postby Calilasseia » Apr 29, 2013 10:05 pm

Of course, the real Austerian agenda consists of turning the world into a vast playground for the hyper-rich, whilst the rest of us look forward to an anachronistic revival of serfdom. It's basically a hate-driven ideological war against the poor by people who regard them as "plebs" and "the great unwashed". Only someone with such an ideological agenda could possibly justify taking a wrecking ball to everything that makes a society civilised and decent, whilst at the same time trying to devise yet more ingenious ways of handing even more money to people who are sitting on vast mountains of the stuff. It's basically a form of corporate fascism, aimed at turning the planet into a vast plutocracy.
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Re: America's War

#6  Postby Macdoc » Apr 29, 2013 10:55 pm

The battle is old.

Keynes has gone down in history as the first of the big spenders - the man who thought government could spend their way out of problems. (In fact, there's a lot more to him than that, but I'll get to that in a minute.)

If you've heard Hayek's name, it will have been as Keynes' arch enemy - the "Austrian" economist who wrote the Road to Serfdom and believed that markets should be as free as humanly possible.


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19620971

...the word is new.

Etymology
Blend of austerity and Austrian.
[edit]Noun
Austerian (plural Austerians)
(neologism, pejorative) A supporter of the Austrian School of economics, particularly the libertarian, anti-Keynesian school advocated by Ludwig von Mises.


the source of the word apparently
http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2010/06/wo ... usterians/
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Re: America's War

#7  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » Apr 30, 2013 12:58 am

Calilasseia wrote:Of course, the real Austerian agenda consists of turning the world into a vast playground for the hyper-rich, whilst the rest of us look forward to an anachronistic revival of serfdom. It's basically a hate-driven ideological war against the poor by people who regard them as "plebs" and "the great unwashed". Only someone with such an ideological agenda could possibly justify taking a wrecking ball to everything that makes a society civilised and decent, whilst at the same time trying to devise yet more ingenious ways of handing even more money to people who are sitting on vast mountains of the stuff. It's basically a form of corporate fascism, aimed at turning the planet into a vast plutocracy.

Hear! Hear! The man speaks truth!

Let it ring!
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Re: America's War

#8  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » Apr 30, 2013 3:00 am

Robert Reich was Labor Secretary in the Clinton Administration (second term). He now teaches at UC Berkeley.

The war goes on.


Public Debt and Economic Growth
Posted: 04/29/2013 2:59 pm
By Robert Reich
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-re ... 79760.html

In the election of 1952 my father voted for Dwight Eisenhower. When I asked him why he explained that "FDR's debt" was still burdening the economy -- and that I and my children and my grandchildren would be paying it down for as long as we lived.
I was only six years old and had no idea what a "debt" was, let alone FDR's. But I had nightmares about it for weeks.

Yet as the years went by my father stopped talking about "FDR's debt," and since I was old enough to know something about economics I never worried about it. My children have never once mentioned FDR's debt. My four-year-old grandchild hasn't uttered a single word about it.

By the end of World War II, the national debt was 120 percent of the entire economy. But by the mid-1950s, it was half that.
Why did it shrink? Not because the nation stopped spending. We had a Korean War, a Cold War, we rebuilt Germany and Japan, sent our GI's to college and helped them buy homes, expanded education at all levels, and began constructing the largest public-works program in the nation's history -- the interstate highway system.

"FDR's debt" shrank in proportion to the national economy because the national economy grew so fast.

I was reminded of this by the recent commotion over an error in a research paper by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.
The two Harvard economists had analyzed a huge amount of data from the United States and other advanced economies linking levels of public debt to economic growth. They concluded that growth turns negative (that is, economies tend to collapse into recession) when public debt rises above 90 percent of GDP.

That finding, in turn, fueled austerics, who insisted that the budget deficit (and debt) had to be cut in order to revive economic growth.

But Reinhart and Rogoff's computations were wrong, and average GDP growth in very-high-debt nations is around 2.2 percent rather than a negative 0.1 percent.

A few days ago, the two offered a defense in an oped in the New York Times, asserting "very small actual differences" between their critics' results and their own.

Regardless, Reinhart and Rogoff seem to be correct in one basic respect: Economic growth does seem to be lower in very-high-debt countries.

But the entire debate over their paper's flaws begs the central question of cause and effect.
Is growth lower because of the high debt? That would still make the austeric's case, even without the magic 90 percent tipping point.

Or does cause-and-effect the other way around? Maybe slow growth makes debt burdens larger. There's evidence to suggest this is the case.

If so, government should be fueling growth through, say, spending more -- at least in the short run.
As we should have learned from what happened to "FDR's debt," growth is the key.
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Re: America's War

#9  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » Apr 30, 2013 4:50 am

Ands still it goes on ...


Reality 1, Austerity 0

Posted: 04/28/2013 10:26 pm
By Robert Kuttner
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-ku ... 75931.html

It's been a very bad week for the merchants of austerity.

In Europe, the just-released statistics on first quarter performance show EU nations sliding deeper into recession. In Spain and Greece, unemployment rates are approaching a staggering 30 percent. In Britain, the Tory government took as good news the fact that the UK managed to eke out 0.3 percent growth. Even Germany, the prime sponsor of these policies, is on the edge of recession.

One nation after another is challenging German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the European Central Bank, the two lead purveyors of economic pain as the cure for fiscal sin. The governments of France, Italy, Spain and Portugal are pressing Merkel to relent, and EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, the ultimate weathervane, now says the EU needs to focus on growth instead of belt-tightening. The International Monetary Fund, usually one of the sponsors of fiscal masochism, says Europe is imposing too much pain.

Here is the U.S., the first quarter numbers were lousy. The economy grew at a rate of just 2.5 percent, less than forecasters projected, and not enough to improve the unemployment rate or raise wages. Analysts across the spectrum correctly blamed the slowdown on the sequester, which cut the budget by $85 billion this year, on top of the January deal that raised taxes, mostly on workers, by another $200 billion.

You don't promote growth by slashing demand. Supposedly, fiscal tightening improves business confidence. But if some entrepreneur somewhere decided to break ground for a new factory because the president and Congress at last cut the budget, nobody could find such a person.

Even the Washington Post editorial page, which has long been promoting a budget bargain built on more cuts, warned in its lead Sunday editorial, that austerity is pinching too hard -- in Europe, that is. How about at home?

And Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhardt had a really terrible week. Their now infamous 2010 claim that nations get into economic trouble when their debt ratios exceed 90 percent of GDP was blown to hell by a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts. For three years, critics have been pressing R&R to share their raw data. When Thomas Herndon and colleagues Michael Ash and Robert Pollin finally got hold of the research and reworked R&R's numbers, it turned out that they had selectively used data and made basic errors of arithmetic.

Far from corroborating R&R's claim that countries with debt ratios above 90 percent have growth significantly lower than those with lower levels, the reworking revealed the opposite.

[Continues ...
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Re: America's War

#10  Postby Ihavenofingerprints » Apr 30, 2013 5:02 am

I've never really cared about this argument before. Just read up on it on wiki.

What makes people think austerity is a good idea? It seems like they just hate the idea of conventional keynesian methods, and decide they support doing the opposite just because?
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Re: America's War

#11  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » Apr 30, 2013 5:19 am

Ihavenofingerprints wrote:I've never really cared about this argument before. Just read up on it on wiki.

What makes people think austerity is a good idea? It seems like they just hate the idea of conventional keynesian methods, and decide they support doing the opposite just because?

Their thinking is ideologically predicated and driven, whereas their opponents apply evidence based rational thought bolstered by facts and good reliable data and logical cogent analyses.

The argument that we have to cut spending to the bone and then some to get the economy going again is a lie, plain and simple, just as "trickle down" was a lie. It rationalizes a belief in the sanctity of the one per cent and great wealth and the ignominy and righteousness of the poverty struck and their slave wages, the "takers," who are poor because they deserve to be and we ought to just throw them to the dogs.

Yet it is the working class who built this nation, built the tanks and planes and guns with which it won wars, built the infrastructure and buildings that allows commerce to thrive, and their intellectual brothers created our great universities and research centers.

All the one per cent every did was shuffle a little money around and count beans and stash their wealth offshore, while manipulating the mortgage industry so they could steal $trillions from commoners.
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Re: America's War

#12  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » May 01, 2013 5:22 am

It's getting to be more like reality 6 and Austerianism 0.


2 More Grad Students Claim To Find Another Flaw In Reinhart-Rogoff Research

Posted: 04/30/2013 12:43 pm EDT | Updated: 04/30/2013 12:46 pm EDT
By Mark Gongloff
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/3 ... ref=topbar

Like Scooby-Doo villains, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff keep getting done in by meddling kids.

First, University of Massachusetts-Amherst grad student Thomas Herndon shot holes in their influential research paper, "Growth In A Time Of Debt," by pointing outseveral mistakes and omissions the Harvard economists had made. Now, two PhD students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City have a new paper that they say finds another flaw in that same research.

The students argue that Reinhart and Rogoff's paper leaned too heavily on data from one country, Japan, leading to all sorts of bad conclusions about the relationship between government debt and economic growth.

"The argument that high ratios of government debt-to-GDP cause low growth remains plagued by misconceptions, at least for nations which issue their own currency," wrote the UMKC students, Matthew Berg and Brian Hartley. They used the same data that Herndon used, correcting for Reinhart and Rogoff's earlier errors and omissions.

Berg and Hartley argued that, once you adjust for the outsize influence of Japan on the data, there is no evidence that high debt causes slow growth, as Reinhart and Rogoff strongly suggested in their original paper and in subsequent influential op-ed pieces. In fact, there is some evidence that the chain of events may work in the other direction, with slow growth leading to higher debt, Berg and Hartley wrote.

Reinhart and Rogoff discussed Japan briefly in a recent response to critics published in The New York Times. They, too, labeled Japan an outlier, but stood by their overall research. And they conceded that a lot more investigation needs to be done into the question of whether high debt causes slow growth or the other way around.

Every new blow to Reinhart and Rogoff's research is another nail in the coffin of the case for austerity -- or should be, at least. Reinhart and Rogoff's original claim, that countries with debt of more than 90 percent of gross domestic product suffered from dramatically slower economic growth, has been repeatedly used as a baton to beat austerity opponents into submission. It was used to justify devastating belt-tightening measures in Europe and the U.K. and contributed to a deficit obsession in the U.S. that has helped keep growth slow and unemployment high.

Despite the errors in their research, Reinhart and Rogoff claim their main point -- that too much debt is bad -- still stands, and other austerity fans still agree with them.

They just don't really have the numbers to back them up any more, thanks to Herndon, who says he finds Reinhart and Rogoff's rebuttals unconvincing. And his paper has apparently inspired an army of economists, and grad students, to pile into the Mystery Machine and look for other flaws.

This war isn't going to end until the Tea Baggers are voted out of the House and conservative Republican Senators are shown the door.
Capitalism is obsolete, yet we keep dancing with its corpse.

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Re: America's War

#13  Postby Mike_L » May 01, 2013 9:17 am

And when the politicos start talking about "recovery" they omit to mention that it's recovery for the few...

Recovery for the 7 Percent

By Paul Craig Roberts

Since the recession was officially declared to be over in June 2009, I have assured readers that there has been no recovery. Gerald Celente, John Williams (shadowstats.com), and no doubt others have also made it clear that the alleged recovery is an artifact of an understated inflation rate that produces an image of real economic growth.

Now comes the Pew Research Center with its conclusion that the recession ended only for the top 7 percent of households that have substantial holdings of stocks and bonds. The other 93% of the American population is still in recession.
...
CONTINUED
Full article at:
http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2013/04/28/recovery-for-the-7-percent-paul-craig-roberts/
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Re: America's War

#14  Postby Scot Dutchy » May 01, 2013 9:27 am

Ihavenofingerprints wrote:I've never really cared about this argument before. Just read up on it on wiki.

What makes people think austerity is a good idea? It seems like they just hate the idea of conventional keynesian methods, and decide they support doing the opposite just because?


The top one percent in America make money out of austerity while wages are forced down.

Corperate America is gaining in power and when the turn around does come (and it will) they will be in charge.
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Re: America's War

#15  Postby Calilasseia » May 01, 2013 12:02 pm

Scot Dutchy wrote:
Ihavenofingerprints wrote:I've never really cared about this argument before. Just read up on it on wiki.

What makes people think austerity is a good idea? It seems like they just hate the idea of conventional keynesian methods, and decide they support doing the opposite just because?


The top one percent in America make money out of austerity while wages are forced down.

Corperate America is gaining in power and when the turn around does come (and it will) they will be in charge.


Which is what I've been arguing is the entire point. Namely, turning the planet into a vast playground for the corporate hyper-rich, whilst the rest of us endure neo-serfdom.
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Re: America's War

#16  Postby Scot Dutchy » May 01, 2013 12:04 pm

Calilasseia wrote:
Scot Dutchy wrote:
Ihavenofingerprints wrote:I've never really cared about this argument before. Just read up on it on wiki.

What makes people think austerity is a good idea? It seems like they just hate the idea of conventional keynesian methods, and decide they support doing the opposite just because?


The top one percent in America make money out of austerity while wages are forced down.

Corperate America is gaining in power and when the turn around does come (and it will) they will be in charge.


Which is what I've been arguing is the entire point. Namely, turning the planet into a vast playground for the corporate hyper-rich, whilst the rest of us endure neo-serfdom.


I good sign of it will be when the rich will be looking for service staff like the 19th century.
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Re: America's War

#17  Postby Panderos » May 01, 2013 1:32 pm

Scot Dutchy wrote:I good sign of it will be when the rich will be looking for service staff like the 19th century.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/10 ... erved.html

The servant is back in Mayfair – and not just on the set of Upstairs, Downstairs. A new study has uncovered the startling fact that there are more servants now working in the area than there were 200 years ago. The survey – by Wetherell, an estate agent catering to the international super-rich – has revealed that 90 per cent of the 4,500 people who own houses, and 80 per cent of those with flats, have their own servants. In 1790, there were only 48 servants living in Mayfair and working for its 1,500 residents...[cont]
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Re: America's War

#18  Postby FACT-MAN-2 » May 01, 2013 2:08 pm

Scot Dutchy wrote:
Ihavenofingerprints wrote:I've never really cared about this argument before. Just read up on it on wiki.

What makes people think austerity is a good idea? It seems like they just hate the idea of conventional keynesian methods, and decide they support doing the opposite just because?


The top one percent in America make money out of austerity while wages are forced down.

Corperate America is gaining in power and when the turn around does come (and it will) they will be in charge.

They're already in charge, seems to me.

But Ihavenofingerprints should understand, the one per cent (or anyone promoting austerity) do not think in terms of the common good or what policies would benefit Americans at all levels, no, they only think in terms of what policies will benefit them, and the reality is that austerity does indeed push wages down, stifle economic growth, and bring about much economic pain and mayhem among the middle classes and the poor, all the while it keeps the market bouyant and rising and the ultra-rich getting ever richer by the moment.

Yesterday, a Tea Bagger member of the House of Representatives from South Carolina introduced a Bill that would eliminate all statistical reporting done by the Census Bureau, which includes a broad array of reports on unemployment, economic growth, and other indicators of how people are faring. If this Bill were to be enacted by the Congress we'd no longer know what the unemployment rate was nor know much of anything about the economic well being of the citizentry.

This is all part of the right wing extremist's agenda to turn the clock back to 1910 and reimpose the horrors of the Gilded Age on the American people.

Whether they'll get away with it or not remains to be seen, but if they get their way, the US will be toast in a hurry.
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Re: America's War

#19  Postby Scot Dutchy » May 01, 2013 3:54 pm

Panderos wrote:
Scot Dutchy wrote:I good sign of it will be when the rich will be looking for service staff like the 19th century.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/10 ... erved.html

The servant is back in Mayfair – and not just on the set of Upstairs, Downstairs. A new study has uncovered the startling fact that there are more servants now working in the area than there were 200 years ago. The survey – by Wetherell, an estate agent catering to the international super-rich – has revealed that 90 per cent of the 4,500 people who own houses, and 80 per cent of those with flats, have their own servants. In 1790, there were only 48 servants living in Mayfair and working for its 1,500 residents...[cont]


Well there you go. Next it will be the return of chimney sweeps.
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Re: America's War

#20  Postby Scot Dutchy » May 01, 2013 3:56 pm

FACT-MAN-2 wrote:Yesterday, a Tea Bagger member of the House of Representatives from South Carolina introduced a Bill that would eliminate all statistical reporting done by the Census Bureau, which includes a broad array of reports on unemployment, economic growth, and other indicators of how people are faring. If this Bill were to be enacted by the Congress we'd no longer know what the unemployment rate was nor know much of anything about the economic well being of the citizentry


Surely this will not pass Congress!
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