We’re Number One!

“A groundbreaking cell-transplant surgery has let a paralyzed man walk again. Darek Fidyka, 40, was paralyzed in 2010 after being stabbed multiple times in the spine. In collaboration with London scientists, surgeons in Poland transplanted cells from Fidyka’s nasal cavity into his spinal cord. Scientists hoped that the cells would help fibers above and below his injury to reconnect, and they used nerve grafts to fill in the gap in his spinal cord. Two years after the surgery, Fidyka’s regained his ability to walk. It’s “more impressive than man walking on the moon,” said Prof. Geoff Raisman, who led the U.K. research team behind the surgery.”

Isn’t that one of those socialist medical system countries that have far inferior health care than ours? You might also ask what else Republicans have been lying to you about. I am channeling Molly Ivins.

Social Media

Specifically the Internet, Facebook, and Twitter. I am not a fan of Twitter, but it does have its uses. It is good for following trends. It is good for organizing (as well as texting). But if you have anything meaningful to say, it simply cannot be done in 146 characters unless you are being snarky or preaching to the choir. Most who use it and do have something meaningful to say link their tweet to a longer document somewhere else in cyberspace. In that vein, it is a useful notification tool for important discussions elsewhere, but real meaningful discussion cannot be on twitter.

Facebook has been a useful media for me. I like to keep touch with my friends and family. It can be a fun medium to share events even when you are not there. Yes there are problems with it when (and you know who I am talking about) it is used as a self-promoting tool. “See me, I am in the Hawaiian Isands.” “I been there, try x, or y.” When you are posting multiple pictures of yourself, you may be trending down that road.

And of course there are those political posts. Someone decides that all their friends need to be educated on some political idea or insight into human nature. I try to totally refrain from these kinds of posts on Facebook because I have this blog and it is voluntary, not automatically sent to people who don’t want to read it.

Same goes with religious messages. But from time to time when someone says something unbelievably stupid, and not supported by the facts, I try to send them links to help them understand that FOX talking points are not necessarily facts. It’s a waste of time, but I like to think of it as a subtle hint that these kinds of posts don’t belong here.

But the latest trend is to use Facebook to promote your business. Now it is one thing to have a business page (same with politics, it is okay to have a political page) because everyone who participates in that site accepts what it is. But when you start selling on your personal page, you have crossed the line. Now your posts about something you are selling is going out to people who like you as a person, not necessarily your products (or your politics or religion).

Sadly it cheapens you as person and your view of us as a friend when we become potential customers. And when enough of them appear, we start ignoring your posts. You are no longer that friend or family member we want to keep up with, but just another marketer with auto-dial.

I guess my point is fairly simple. The internet provided us with an amazing tool where we could connect with the world whether we are providing information, selling things, or being political. But it was a medium that involved choice of the participant. You have to decide to go to that site and it is not forced down your throat. Twitter came along as a short cut to writing and thinking deeply. But as noted, there are some valid uses. Facebook was wildly popular because it allowed us to connect to our friends and family almost as if we were with them.

But enter human foibles, and for some Facebook has become the center of selling, either of themselves, or some product, political or social. And in it, we loose our humanity because this selling is a one way street that does not respect the recipient. Like a telemarketer, you become the number in an autodial system instead of a respected friend. All good things come to an end I guess.

Non-Partisan News

I saw a promo for a new news show where the two guys were going to talk about sports and news and keep partisanship out of it. Did you ever really wonder what that means? I wonder what it means since mainstream media that tries to be non-partisan thinks that he said/she said news is non-partisan. Is repeating what one politician says without analysis non-partisan? If it is, truth has died and the world is full of opinions without facts.

I hate to break it to many out there, but much of the news reported as partisan because it presents the facts of an issue heavily on one side or the other, is not partisan if that is in fact what the truth is. Example, reporting that global warming exists or that there is no economically viable clean coal, while maybe politically inconvenient, is not partisan or taking a partisan side. It is the simple the truth as we know it.

Does reporting that the data shows that an air travel embargo for ebola has never worked and experts report it as counterproductive make you partisan? Because someone disagrees and because the facts are overwhelmingly against their position does not mean that to be non-partisan we have to give them equal time or not point out all the facts against them.

But sadly that is where we are in our media reporting where if there is one dissenting opinion based upon an alternate reality, it is reported with equal weight as the one with the science and data behind it. Is it partisan to point out that voter suppression is the primary purpose behind voter ID laws when the data is unequivocal? Yet it is reported as he said/she said and media that reports the facts (no real evidence of in-person voter fraud and real evidence these laws disenfranchise minorities) is considered partisan?

Partisan news is easy to spot. They pick and choose their facts or they just outright misrepresent them. See Fox News. But the news that looks at the facts and questions politicians whose facts do not stand the test of reality, well, they are called partisan if the facts are inconvenient to a political position. Of course doing that kind of reporting would require reporters who are actually knowledgable about the issues and the facts and they are hard to come by these days. And we wonder why people vote against their own best interests.

Facts Don’t Matter

An elementary school in New Jersey forced transfer students from Rwanda not to attend classes over Ebola fears. Rwanda hasn’t had one case of Ebola and it is 2,600 miles from the closest afflicted country in West Africa.

As CNN’s Candy Crowley furiously argued the Obama administration’s case in the Ebola outbreak, Texas senator Ted Cruz dismissed the expert advice coming from supporters of the federal response to the crisis.

‘The doctors who are saying this are working for the administration and repeating the administration’s talking points,” Cruz said on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday. “And their arguments don’t make sense.’”

Scott Brown told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade Friday that Ebola wouldn’t be a problem for America if Mitt Romney had won in 2012.

“Gosh can you imagine if Mitt was the president right now?” Brown said. “He was right on Russia, he was right on Obamacare, he was right on the economy. And I guarantee you we would not be worrying about Ebola right now and, you know, worrying about our foreign policy screw ups.”

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) and Fox News contributor George Will both made claims this weekend suggesting Ebola is spread more easily than the medical community and the Obama administration have led the public to believe — claims that did not sway the fact checkers.

On Fox News Sunday yesterday, Will alleged some scientists had said the virus could be spread via a sneeze or cough, effectively making the virus airborne in close quarters.

PunditFact rated the claim completely false, chiding Will for taking “medical commentary out of context”

I rest my case.

Worried About All the Wrong Things

Vox has an interesting article about how the coverage of Ebola and ISIS is skewing our real perception of real threats and impacting our ability to develop realistic policies. I would go a step farther and say it is a total distraction from the real threats to our economy and our very basis for our democracy. That is why it is no secret that Republicans are throwing out outrageous statements to terrify you with no basis in fact.

Is Ebola a concern? Certainly, but the answer is not closing our borders while imagining Ebola infected armies coming at our southern border. Same with ISIS. Who has been infected with Ebola in the United States? Two care givers. It is really hard to get Ebola and those at real risk are care givers when the virus is in full bloom. So it is simple to prevent the spread. And the key is to get to Africa and help them contain it there. But Republicans are throwing up all kinds of road blocks wanting travel bands and not putting our military at risk. It keeps you distracted from our real problems and real solutions.

Is ISIS a concern? Do we really want American boots on the ground? Please, what is the end game? Another Iraq? Isn’t that how we got ISIS and al Qaeda in Iraq in the first place? Americans are being scared into growing support for American boots on the ground to fight ISIS and not thinking it through. That is the point of fear politics. Stepping back and looking at both threats brings a whole new perspective and that is the last thing Republicans want you to have. They want you to be reactive because quite frankly, they don’t have any ideas that stand the test of calm evaluation.

How do you conflate either Ebola or ISIS with sealing our southern border? Or in the case of Ebola, sealing all our borders from Africa. It is the barbarians at the gate mentality and not only does it distract us from the real and urgent issues facing our country, but the solutions they propose worsen the problem. And as Vox so aptly points out, our media is doing a fine job of handing the Republicans the be afraid megaphone. It’s great entertainment.

What are our real problems? Well I would be seriously worried about the Republican’s attempt to steal elections by voter ID laws and restrictive poll place location and hours (be afraid of people trying to steal elections so let us steal them). I would be seriously concerned about a conservative Supreme Court that is empowering corporations over people through money is free speech and business owner’s religious beliefs trumps employee religious beliefs (It’s big government in the form of big corporations couched in be afraid of big government).

I would be seriously concerned about how conservative ideas about gutting government with massive cutbacks have made us less able to deal with crisis like Ebola or invest in our infrastructure. I would be extremely concerned with how the policies of low taxes for the wealthy are not helping our economy, but increasing inequality, and in turn give most of us less spending power to help our economy. I would be concerned about how Republican governments in the states are severely limiting women’s health and the right to choose.

I would be severely concerned about the conservatives idea that we need no minimum wage and that protections of workers either through unions, safety regulations, or environmental controls should be rolled back because it inhibits the gross profit taking of businesses. And I would be extremely concerned about how conservatives protect corporations through tax subsidies, tax shelters, protecting of off-shoring of jobs, and anti-labor activities and union busting. Oh, and I must not forget, be afraid of big government that will interfere with business with that “giant hoax” global warming.

And note that almost all of the above has been in the name of be afraid. Be afraid of the debt, be afraid of loosing jobs because the “job creators” are being interfered with, be afraid that our moral values are being corrupted, be afraid of inflation and high interest rates, and above all else, be afraid of big government (except when we use it for voter suppression and denying a woman’s right to choose). And the amazing thing is that none of these “be afraid of” stand the test of scrutiny. But the be afraid tactic is exactly designed to distract us from this scrutiny.

Most importantly, they are running on be afraid of Obama. See how he has mishandled x, y, and z. So vote for us. No we don’t have to give you plans so you can actually examine what we are going to do, because we don’t have any but more of the same stuff you got under Bush II.

So they are winning and with help from our media who loves to sensationalize events instead of analyzing them for the voter. See two Senators discuss travel bans for Africa and wonder why we turn to flack politicians for policy that should be based on science, not polls. Americans are so dumbed down right now it is scary. And our only hope is with minorities and the young if they vote. Please vote this time. It would be nice to prove all the talking heads wrong about the upcoming election and not let ignorance win.

Reality in the News

I watched the news report that the forensics supported Officer Wilson’s account of events. Really, or did Officer Wilson have time to craft his version of events to match the forensics? There clearly was no statement of his account until most of the facts were known. Are there other interpretations of the forensics? Don’t know because we don’t see an expert interviewed that could challenge that reporting. Oh and about those other bullets fired as he was fleeing and all those eyewitness accounts …

Ah, Meet the Press. With Chuck Todd things have gotten better, but we still have our systemic problems. Chuck first had two Ebola experts on and we learned more facts about the disease and the fact that the real fight is in Africa. Then we had two senators on about travel restrictions, one for, the other couching his answer in a political, there is still disagreement from the experts. No there isn’t and as the two experts on the show weighed in, it will hurt, not help. Why do we interview politicians about matters of fact and science?

There was a discussion about how the political debates are going in local elections and how Republicans are pretty much running against Obama. All I could think as they trotted out some of failures of the Obama Administration, so what’s your idea? “He’s bad, elect us,” seems to be the ploy and real local issues like voting suppression, women’s access to healthcare, job creation, minimum wage are pushed to the sidelines as once again it becomes a beauty contest.

Then there was reporting about why America is panicking when we have had only 1 death from Ebola. The press’s sensationalism of everything that has happened, the 24/7 coverage, and the focus on every misstep as though the sky is falling never came up. I wonder why?

Just another day when one should not listen to the news if you want to be informed.

Incompetence

Yesterday I talked about incompetence in government and the private sector and how in large organizations, private or public, it is inevitable. Why is that? It has to do with ego, and the way organizations set up their reward systems.

Ego because we all want to be successful and be recognized. Reward systems because organizations set up advancement processes that reward the careers of their bosses and are not looking out for the long term interests of the organization and the people they serve. And here is the bottom line up front. To advance in many organizations your must serve those in power, and those can get separated from the goals of the organization.

Let me ask you a question. Think of all the generals that went to Iraq (Or Vietnam for that matter) and by the metrics of the day, were winning the war, but were they? And what do you think happened to those that pointed out that they weren’t? That is precisely what I am talking about. Careers and protecting the organization become the driving factor instead of the goals and objectives for which the organization was established. And in doing that we promote the wrong people and the organization loses its way.

Of course there are other factors like politics and agendas, but they all come back to the same thing, ego and reward. So what happens and how do we miss it when we get so far off course? Well here is my experience in large organizations. The Big Cheese (BC) has a very big ego and he wants to win. So there are two things that have to go on here.

First you have to provide the BC with nuggets that align with his winning, and the second is that you have to get noticed doing it. Now note, say in the case of the CDC, we are not saying we have to come up with the best protocols for Ebola, we are saying the BC has many conflicting priorities and the one that enhances his career will be the one that enhances yours. If you are telling him that the protocols are fine, he can move on to other things and you are perceived as a team player. The last thing he wants is more problems

So we have a ton of people scurrying around doing their jobs and trying to get noticed by the BC for the next promotion. And here is something you really want to focus on, if you do a great job on something that is not on the BC’s radar, it doesn’t help you. And like the Iraq/Vietnam generals I pointed out earlier, telling truth to power when that truth questions and puts in jeopardy the BC’s advancement is career suicide.

The extreme case of this was the intelligence hunt for WMD in Iraq. The BC (Cheney) needed that proof. He didn’t ask if there was WMD, he said get me proof. When the real professionals in the intelligence community raised questions, the BC formed his own intelligence group and those that prospered brought him what he wanted to hear.

Think about how this functioned in the roll out of the Obamacare Website. It has to be on time, so all the problems were minimized because that is what the bosses wanted to hear. If you were the manger telling truth to power, it’s not ready, you are not a team player and are sabotaging the effort. I have seen it over and over again.

In large organizations where everything is stovepiped, everything goes through layers and channels, how hard it is for truth, disagreeable truth, to reach the BC. “Are we ready for the Ebola breakout? Yes sir! We have sent out protocols and our hospitals are the best in the world!” “You are doing a great job Brownie!”

Critical to overcoming this process of incompetence is to have someone who asks the hard questions. In a perfect world that is the BC. But he is too busy with too many things to get into the details. And as I have noted earlier, someone inside the system that does that is risking career suicide. I have yet to see (all though there may be) an organization that has internalized that process.

In small projects (organizations), you can do face to face and ask the hard questions. The “nurses” in the CDC failure would have had a voice. But in large organizations with many projects, what the real focus is on is solving problems, not bringing more to the table even though in doing you keep the project on the right track.

From the VA hospital scandal, to the Obamacare roll out snafu, to the CDC mishandling of Ebola, all that was required was someone in power to ask the right questions*. But if the right questions identify problems that will cost more money, or delay the project, or identify flaws in leadership, it is very dangerous to ask them. And we have created a whole hierarchy of managers and leaders who understand this and don’t.

In my second life as a consultant, I do this. I am not loved. Companies drink their own Kool Aid, and pointing that out is going to ruffle someone’s feathers. But that is what is required if our large bureaucracies are going to be effective and adaptive to changing environments. I am not sure that without outside review, this can be internalized. You would be amazed at how quickly and internal organization can be co-opted. See most internal reviews of police violence. But we have to do it.

Finally, in most cases, incompetence is not from stupidity, but from misguided goals and objectives that blinds us to reality. Organizations that overcome that are always looking at their objectives and assumptions with a skeptical eye even if it questions what the BC wants. And that sadly is rare.

*The right questions:
Ebola:

  1. Are the protocols we have based upon the latest lessons learned from Africa and from those actually working in the Area?
  2. Do those protocols cover the life cycle of the disease including intake, treatment, lab procedures, limitation of travel for directly affected personnel,and waste disposal?
  3. Are hospitals training their staffs in these protocols and is that training adequate? How do we know?

Obamacare Website:

  1. What are the metrics we are using to measure progress?
  2. What sort of load testing are we using to see if the site is functioning properly?
  3. How are the different interfaces being coordinated and how do we know they are working?

VA Hospital:

  1. How are we independently accessing wait times in the VA system?
  2. What kind of complaints and their numbers being presented to management

  3. How many independent surveys do we conduct to verify reported statistics

Confidence in Government

I am probably the best example of a Progressive which is different from the general understanding of being liberal. I am talking about their implicit meanings, not their explicit ones. I am in the school of Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, I believe government has an important role in solving our biggest issues and protecting us from big business. I also firmly do not trust government. Big organizations with power invariably abuse their power for their own benefit, not yours. And incompetence springs eternal everywhere. That is why transparency in government is so important.

My experience in the public and private sector has shown me that neither has a monopoly on abuse of power or incompetence. The difference is that in the private sector, while incompetence and abuse may make them money (their sole purpose) in the short term, someone smarter and more efficient will eventually come along and replace them. In government, unless we can see their failures and demand changes, corrections rarely happen, change is hard, and the critical services they provide us fail us. That is why secrecy in my mind, is the Ebola virus of government. Once it is well developed, the odds of removing it from your system are almost nil and eventually you die from it.

Now most conservatives will argue that what I have just said argues that governments should be small and most tasks now performed by government should be performed by the private sector. That is an idea not well thought through. Certainly we would all agree that policing, fire protection, and the military should not be subcontracted out. The profit motive driving these important functions would leave the poor without any protection and the rich with too much power.

I would argue that the world is showing us that for profit medicine is the most inefficient and ineffective way to deliver it. Environmental protection, clean water and air, and dealing with global warming cannot be effectively done on the local level. And when you turn vital services over to the private sector, who would be big and powerful enough to regulate them and prevent the gross abuses we have seen from the private sector throughout our history?

In other words I would argue that big government is essential to preserving what the Founders laid out for us, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Without it there is no way that the abuses of the private sector can be contained as self-interest and greed run amok. Without government to invest in the middle class in terms of healthcare, education, safety, and infrastructure, there will eventually just be the rich and the poor. And unfortunately right now in this country we have one political party, the Republicans, dedicated to the destruction of a strong federal government except of course when they can use it to deny voter access to the polls and control women’s bodies.

That is why the latest failure of government embodied in the CDC is so disturbing. The Republicans will use this to make their case that they should be in charge, and then they will use that opportunity to further dismantle our government and disenfranchise the middle class. The battle cry will be about President Obama’s leadership (which as noted below leaves something to be desired), but in voting for Republicans to “fix” the government, voters are simply voting for the people that helped make the CDC ineffective by cutting funds across the board to make government in general less effective.

Joe Nocera has written an interesting piece this morning about the failures of the CDC and government in general:

Are there extenuating circumstances? To hear infectious disease specialists tell it, the answer is yes. Like all federal agencies, the C.D.C. saw significant cuts to its funding thanks to sequestration. Another expert, Marc Lipsitch of the Harvard School of Public Health, told me in an email that because the chances of Ebola being imported to the U.S. were considered low, preparing for it was not considered a good use of scarce public money. “The budget cuts,” he wrote, “have directly reduced preparedness.”

In addition, the C.D.C., like many federal agencies, had its mission transformed after 9/11. Julie Gerberding, an appointee of the Bush administration, changed its emphasis to bioterrorism and other potential security threats. “She also brought in efficiency experts who were anathema to scientists,” says Laurie Garrett, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of the seminal 1994 book, “The Coming Plague.” Morale plummeted, and many of its best scientists fled.

Fair enough. But it is also true that the C.D.C. was too hubristic in its approach to Ebola, and the consequence is that its staff now looks like bumblers. “They never challenged their own assumptions,” says Dr. Richard Wenzel, an infectious disease specialist at Virginia Commonwealth University. “

I too have wondered where the basic project management skills necessary to do a risk assessment of their approach was (Hubris). But management from the Obama Administration has been lacking in things that I think were easily preventable. As Joe tells it:

When you think about it, many of the Obama administration’s “scandals” have been failures of competence. The Secret Service let a man leap over the White House fence and get into the White House. The Veterans Health Administration covered up unconscionable delays in treating veterans. The error-ridden rollout of the Obamacare website was a nightmare for people trying to sign up for health insurance. The Republican right takes it as an article of faith that the national government can’t do anything right. Problems like these only help promote that idea.

Where we need our government to be effective and strong, they are making entirely preventable mistakes because management is asleep. I have written on each subjects applying basic Project Management 101 to show how these were preventable. While Paul Krugman writes of President Obama’s accomplishments, I fear that with these management failures, he has given the Republicans all the ammunition they need to regain power and further degrade government. Sadly that may be his real legacy.

You can argue that his managers failed him, but just exactly where does the buck stop? I believe we the voters made a fundamental mistake in electing him. His heart and goals were in the right place, but he did not have the experience in leading government to know how to ask the right questions and know who the right people were. And it won’t just be Democrats that suffer, but the whole middle class as many mistakenly vote against their own best interests and Republicans further dismantle government in favor of their rich benefactors.

And it Never Ends

As a follow up to my last blog on how we have all the wrong economic ideas, this appeared in the NYT this morning as the economies in Europe continue to contract:

The German economy is weakening, as a new European credit scare seems to be arriving. But the German government and central bank seem to see no reason to do anything to stimulate the economy.

… In a speech to the American Council on Germany in Chicago this week, Andreas Dombret, a member of the executive board of the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, pointed to the weakening economic statistics but did not counsel that either fiscal or monetary policies should be used to stimulate economies.

Instead, he focused on the need to make it easier to do business in Europe, including making it easier for employers to hire and fire workers. “To me,” he said, “there can be no doubt. For the euro area to take off, we need to follow through on structural reforms

In a world where we do not seem to learn from our mistakes and continue making them, one has to ask what it will take. One thing is for sure Andreas Dombret and his brethren do not feel the pain of their economic policies and that may be the real problem. Austerity for everyone and pass the Champagne.

The Most Important Thing You Need to Know Today and No, It’s Not About Ebola

What really drives Americans?  Does, “It’s the economy stupid,” ring a bell?  Psychologists tell us that people are less fearful and react with less panic when things are going well financially.  Well things are not going well financially and have not been for many years.  I used to be questioned all the time on where I got the idea that the middle class was losing ground. Now it is common knowledge and most people get it.  What most people don’t get is how our economy works and why things aren’t getting better. Well, reality is giving us a big wakeup call and it is hard to ignore.  Could this be a turning point?

First let’s explore what most people (policy makers, finance ministers in Europe, policy advisors, Angela Merkel, Chicago School of Economics, most business leaders, and our financial markets) believe.  Markets are perfect systems that self correct and must be allowed to self correct.  Our economy acts much like our home budgets and if we spend too much we are headed for disaster.  Borrowing too much puts pressure on available funds and raises interest rates.  It also affects lender’s confidence in the borrower’s (read government’s) ability to pay it back which is reflected in higher risk and drives higher interest rates.

Then there is the conventional wisdom on inflation.  If the economy is sagging, pumping money into the economy either through fiscal policy (making government money more available and increasing the money supply) or stimulus spending will cause runaway inflation.  They also believe that government spending supplants private spending and does no good in creating jobs.  And underpinning all this is the belief that what motivates businesses are low taxes and a favorable business climate.  Business will invest and grow where the burden of government is removed.

The trouble is, it is all wrong and it is demonstrably wrong in our current circumstances.  Now there is a grain of truth in all of it, but it depends on where the economy is when you apply it. If the economy is booming, employment is very low, some or all might be operative.  But when the economy has reached the zero lower bound on interest rates (when the economy is depressed and you can no longer lower interest rates any lower (they are already at effective zero) to encourage borrowing and investment), none of this applies.  Then all of the things we need to be doing are counter intuitive to everything we think we know.

Now let’s look around us.  We have had a jobless recovery in the stock market.  Government has reacted by increasing easy money, and ruaway interest rates and inflation did not happen.  The government has cut its spending and is reducing the deficit quicker than any time since WWII and there is little investment.  Reality intrudes.  This has gone on for six years while all of the above referenced experts scream out of control inflation and rising interest rates, and nothing happened,  They have it wrong.  Companies are sitting on record amounts of cash and are not investing and creating jobs.  But wait, what about the confidence fairy (businesses lack confidence in the economy because of the government debt) and the high tax, bad business environment argument?

Well Europe bought into the confidence fairy hook, line, and sinker (See Germany and misguided Angela Merkel).  Austerity rules and debtors need to be punished. We bought into it just hook and some line (sequester, government cuts, no more stimulus), but our Fed pursued expansionary monetary policies to offset some of the pain, hence the screams of the inflation/interest Chicken Littles.  So what happened?  Europe is crashing and burning.  They are facing their third (triple dip) recession and their recovery (when it was positive) was less than after the great depression.  Could it be that contracting government contracts the economy by decreasing demand (money available to buy things) and confidence has nothing to do with it?  So far that is the lesson in both Europe and here in the United States.  With all the austerity and fiscal discipline, businesses are not investing because there aren’t customers with cash to buy their stuff.  The confidence fairy does not exist.

Okay, but what about restrictive government in terms of taxes and regulations.  Enter Kansas where Governor Brownback brought them the “conservative miracle”.  He cut taxes across the board and reduced government regulation, promising the economic miracle of supply side economics and flow down (as business make money, a high tide lifts all boats).  It didn’t happen and the economy is one of the worst in the region with major state deficit problems when he slashed taxes and cut funding for schools to pay for the cuts. We could also remind people of the Clinton years (he raised taxes and the economy boomed), but that is ancient history.  Supply side economics is a lie.  Demand drives the economy. 

Now the real wakeup call is happening in the markets where the markets are starting to fall because Europe is heading down again and America is also faltering.  They are terrified of deflation. So here is the question for you, should we still be listening to those people who have promised us out of control inflation and rising interest rates for years and it did not happen.  Could their ideas be counter productive to what the economy really needs?  Another no duh moment. Could only government and government spending solve this crisis since the markets being allowed to “self-correct” made things worse as we pursuits constrictive policies?

Could they be waking up to the fact that we need to be stimulating our economy?  That government must act by increasing spending?  That deflation is the real fear and they are starting to see it instead of their chicken little imitation of “inflation is coming, inflation is coming”?  

This is what you need to know.  We have had the wrong idea about how to fix economy and it has not healed us.  The rich are getting richer and the pie is getting smaller for the rest of us, and with it, demand is shrinking.  And now it is becoming alarmingly clear to the markets that things are bad.  It is time to change what we have been doing.

This could start with raising the minimum wage.  It immediately puts more money in the economy and those screaming it will decrease jobs are the same ones who have been screaming inflation and interest rates are out of control.  We could restore much investment in government including R&D.  We could start a real building program to restore our infrastructure by borrowing at record low interest rates.  And we could implement fiscal monetary policies that allow some inflation (it reduces our debt load).  

Yes, our deficits will increase, but so will our income and spending.  If the GDP grows, the growths in deficit spending are reduced by our increased income.  When the economy is able to sustain this growth, government spending gets cut back and all that stuff we have wrong then comes back into play.  It’s a different economy.  We have a whole history in the 30’s we forgot. Those screaming inflation/interest rate morons told us it didn’t matter and those lessons don’t apply. But now with the realization that deflation, not inflation is the real threat they are rethinking it (I hope). All we have to do is do what we already learned how to do and then forgot because the greedy took over and those lessons weren’t convenient anymore.

So the most important thing you need to know today if you are a fiscal conservative is that you have had it all wrong, and reality is flashing red telling you to change directions.  Maybe that is what it takes for change these days.  Of course Republicans who control our government, won’t allow any of this to happen.  Maybe you ought to get out and vote.

Oh, and Paul Krugman, bless his heart, has been hammering away at this for years and nobody has been listening,  Does Cassandra come to mind? But now that the world economy may be heading south, they just might start listening, unless of course it inconveniences the wealthy. Then we are screwed.