“When we’re telling whoppers about Obama and government, please don’t pester us with the facts” Department


First:  American Elephant, a blog that insults pachyderms with its mendacious ways, stretches for ways to complain about President Obama.  In a recent post, the author tried to poke ill-humored fun at Obama and companies he’s visited over the past couple of years.  It’s the headline that caught my attention:

“President Obama has never held a private job, but picks the winners and losers for the economy”

The premise is false, of course — it’s based on that Republican smear meme that Obama and his cabinet lack experience in the private sector, a smear that breaks down quickly if anyone looks at the biographies of the cabinet.  Obama also comes from the private sector, though when confronted with the facts the meme spreaders tend to make rash and foolish claims like “the Catholic church is public sector” and “lawyers all work for the government.”

Conspiracy theory cartoon by Chris Madden

Cartoon by Chris Madden, via TV Tropes

I left a response there, but don’t expect the blog owner to show the decency of allowing it through moderation:

President Obama worked for a private group providing services to people below the poverty line, and then he worked for a very large private law firm, while teaching at the privately-run University of Chicago.  He had never worked for government until his election to the Illinois State Senate (is that salaried?).

You should probably correct the headline.

As if.  Not only is the headline wrong, but the evidence doesn’t support the second premise, and there are other serious problems with the claims and arguments advanced there.  True American elephants probably take to drink to try to forget what’s being done under their name.

Second, and probably third:  There is the minor kerfuffle of the hoax report out of Pakistan that nuclear power plants in Nebraska are either near meltdown, or already melted down, and you don’t know about it because President Obama ordered a news blackout to avoid panic but at the same time condemning hundreds of thousands of Midwesterners to radiation poisoning deaths.  It’s an absurd story on several fronts and several levels — news of the flood plight of the power plants has been reported around the world, for example — but those bent on being suckered by every conspiracy claim to come down the pike, or bent on criticizing President Obama no matter how much they must twist the fact to do it, cannot be dissuaded.

Take for example this odd blog:  A discussion of the imagined meltdown quickly disintegrates into defense of holding on to birther views despite Obama’s release of his “long form” birth certificate (no good information goes un-urinated upon).  Then discussion veers off into all sorts of paranoia — UN “control” of U.S. lands, occupation of several states by rogue Transportation Security Agents (you didn’t hear about it due to the news blackout, most likely), Obama’s being controlled by or controlling GE (‘didn’t GE have something to do with the design of those nuclear reactors?’), Army Corps of Engineers plots to flood the Midwest (????), Obama’s overturning the Constitution through the use of executive orders (which no one there can find at the moment, but they’re sure they exist, somewhere . . .  gee, did we misplace it?) including a wholly imaginary order to take over all rural lands in the U.S. (why?), and complaints that the U.S. is not deporting U.S. soldiers or their families quickly enough.

Such a ball of delusional paranoia and errors of history, law, and other facts!  One might imagine these people so involved in tracking down misinformation and distorting real information that they forget to kick their dogs.  (Seriously, I’d tend to think these people could be helped by having a dog or a cat, except for the very real fear I have they’d forget to feed the creatures; like a drowning person, fighting all efforts to save them.)

Our nation has a collective inability to deal with the facts of too many situations, because too many people simply deny the facts in front of our collective national faceJonathan Kay’s recent book, Among the Truthers, gets at the problem — you can imagine how strongly any of these bloggers and commenters would resist even reading Kay’s book.  It’s not that they seek information to make good decisions on policy, but that they seek the misinformation to justify their paranoid claims that “we are all really, really screwed!

As with the blogs noted above, we witness the birth of voodoo history, bogus history, and intentional ignorance.

There is a great danger from these cesspools of willful ignorance.  As more people refuse to grant credence to facts, to reality, it becomes more difficult to muster a consensus on what to do about any particular problem.  Wildfires and drought in Texas this year already wiped out more than three-fifths of the state’s wheat harvest; floods in the upper Midwest will surely do serious damage to wheat crops there.  We face a shortage of the surpluses of wheat the nation has used to bring peace and vanquish hunger around the world for the past 60 years — think of our “sale” of wheat to the old Soviet Union, stopping the starvation death toll under 10 million and indebting the USSR to the U.S. and the non-communist West — a debt the USSR never could pay off, and a debt which was the hammer to start the crumbling of the foundations of Soviet Communism.  In short, we have a wheat supply problem, caused in no small part by weather extremes that are, mostly likely, aggravated by global warming.

Can we agree to take action?  Probably not, not so long as so many people deny that warming is happening and throw every roadblock in the path of action, in the name of “preventing government takeover.”

As a nation, we have problems with flood control, and emergency preparedness, and the management of undeveloped lands and farm lands — not to mention the many urban problems we face.  What are the odds we can get a consensus on any of those problems, at least enough of a consensus to take constructive action?

For want of a nail, the horseshoe was lost, begins the old saw.  We can’t even get agreement that horseshoes should be nailed to a horse’s hoof — how can we get the consensus to make sure there are enough nails to do the job?

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43 Responses to “When we’re telling whoppers about Obama and government, please don’t pester us with the facts” Department

  1. isis solar says:

    isis solar…

    “When we’re telling whoppers about Obama and government, please don’t pester us with the facts” Department « Millard Fillmore's Bathtub…

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  2. [...] the false claims that President Obama’s cabinet lacked business experience (also here and here), this headline must have made you [...]

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  3. Pangolin says:

    James_ The fact that anyone, much less the majority of the media, is calling this depression a recovery while real wages are falling and prices continue to rise shows what a farce we live in.

    We are living in the old Soviet Union renamed and called the United States. Millions of our people are in hell-hole prisons; most incarcerated without benefit of trial because of the corrupt plea bargain system. The news agencies report flat lies and trivialities and ignore the actual plight of most of the people. Access to housing, food and medical care is declining for the majority of the population. The government is militarized and subjects people to random searches and travel restrictions.

    My favorite part of this farce…….. The third of our population desperate to give more power and a greater percentage of the wealth to the oligarchs that can’t manage things now. As if simply having more money makes a person instantly benevolent and wise. How’s that working for Paris Hilton? Or David Koch? Or the people that work for any major corporation that just announces layoffs while the CEO gives himself a bonus.

    The lies have to stop.

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  4. James Kessler says:

    Here’s another fact for Morgan to chew on:

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/06/30/258388/corporate-profits-recovery/

    After the longest recession since WWII, many Americans are still struggling while S&P 500 corporations are sitting on $800 billion in cash and making massive profits. Now, economists from Northeastern University have released a study that finds our sluggish economic recovery has almost solely benefited corporations. According to the study:

    “Between the second quarter of 2009 and the fourth quarter of 2010, real national income in the U.S. increased by $528 billion. Pre-tax corporate profits by themselves had increased by $464 billion while aggregate real wages and salaries rose by only $7 billion or only .1%. Over this six quarter period, corporate profits captured 88% of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries accounted for only slightly more than 1% of the growth in real national income. …The absence of any positive share of national income growth due to wages and salaries received by American workers during the current economic recovery is historically unprecedented.”

    The New York Times adds, “According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, average real hourly earnings for all employees actually declined by 1.1 percent from June 2009, when the recovery began, to May 2011, the month for which the most recent earnings numbers are available.”

    So as average wages fall, and nearly 14 million people remain unemployed, America’s economic recovery has almost entirely benefited corporations. This development adds another chapter to the decline of the middle class, whose incomes are shrinking and wages are stagnating. Last year, top executives’ salaries increased 27 percent, while workers’ salaries increased only 2 percent. At the moment, income inequality in America is the worst it’s been since the 1920s, as the richest 1 percent make nearly 25 percent of the country’s income.

    The study can be found at: http://www.clms.neu.edu/publication/documents/Revised_Corporate_Report_May_27th.pdf

    And the New York Times article is at: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/30/the-wageless-profitable-recovery/#h%5B%5D

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  5. James Kessler says:

    Morgan, if you want to think that logic holds track then the fact that we had a right wing conservative as a President caused the economy to slowly sink before finally crashing.

    Sorry, Morgan, that “logic” applies both ways.

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  6. Pangolin says:

    So in the thinking of Mr. Freeburg the simple despair the American people felt in having a liberal Speaker of the House was so vast that the economy collapsed.

    None of this had anything to do with the massive deficit spending that George W. Bush demanded to fund his two “wars of choice” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    There is no connection made to the incredible morass of ponzi-scheme debt leveraging that the U.S. had indulged in since the repeal of Glass-Steagal.

    It couldn’t have had anything to do with the increase in energy prices, particularly petroleum that went hand in glove with the war in Iraq.

    It was simple moral malaise.

    Or does the person have a specific reference to a single piece of legislation in the 2006-2008 period that the bare majorities the Democratic House and Senate passed over George W. Bush’s veto.

    Name one. Just one. One piece of legislation passed that brought down the entire economy.

    You can’t.

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  7. Ed Darrell says:

    Lost in the Irony Archipelago Dept: Over at WTPOTUS, they’re complaining that an Australian University might disinvite serial liar Christopher Monckton from speaking — “censorship” they call it — while WTPOTUS is censoring my posts, and those of others I would imagine (how could anyone tell?).

    I complimented their choice of photo of me. That’s too radical for them, no doubt. We’re supposed to quake when they show our photos, I suppose.

    Alun Salt told me I should stop responding to crazies, because it makes them made in the end. Of course, they’re probably mad at the start, too.

    Euripides, whom the gods destroy, etc.

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  8. Here it is in pictorial form:

    http://www.varight.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/unemployment-rates-16-over.jpg

    Spin it however you wish.

    When it’s harder for people to make a profit, the economy will suffer. In fact, this looks from my point of view like arguing “when you heat something up it gets warmer” or “when you move down you move down”; I’m a little embarrassed about the simplicity of it, but I guess you’ve decided it’s in the realm of dispute somehow.

    Times like this, I think what conservatives and liberals are really arguing about, is what the word “economy” really means when used as an intangible noun. Somehow, in lefty-land, if there’s opportunity for people to risk capital and enrich themselves, that is symptomatic of a “weak” economy. All fine & good if you understand that one. Don’t look to me to explain it.

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  9. Ed Darrell says:

    You’re right: Pelosi was way, way too slow in investigating Bush and putting a stop to the Bush tax cuts and other shenanigans.

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  10. Bush was in an awfully long time before 2007, Ed. Who took over Congress in that year?

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  11. Ed Darrell says:

    After all, we had capitalism many years before Pelosi and Obama came along, right? Back when unemployment was below 6%? Tick, tock…liberal President, liberal Congress, millions of unemployed & under-employed who, previously, had good jobs.

    Head spinning here. You’re calling George W. Bush “a liberal” president? The crash was set up in 2007, started in 2008. The 6% unemployment was long gone, and tanking much farther, much faster, when Obama stepped in and stopped the decline.

    In Bush’s 8 years the nation had the worst job growth since Herbert Hoover. It was a rolling, slow crash — and no one hit the brakes until after Obama took over.

    We had capitalism, sure — bandit capitalism, with a massive, government transfer of wealth from the middle class and poor, to the wealthy. I’d call it totalitarian, maybe even fascist.

    You call that “liberal?”

    Put down the Superman comics and the tales of the Bizarro world, come back to reality. Run to the light, Morgan! Run to the light!

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  12. All of this waste is the result of the current political system with unabashedly favors the tiny minority of the wealthy over the general populace. We call it capitalism.

    Gee, I call it liberalism. After all, we had capitalism many years before Pelosi and Obama came along, right? Back when unemployment was below 6%? Tick, tock…liberal President, liberal Congress, millions of unemployed & under-employed who, previously, had good jobs.

    Liberal policies always work. When they don’t, they find someone else to blame.

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  13. Pangolin says:

    To continue on Ed previous comment……

    Currently, about 20% of working age adults are either unemployed or underemployed in part time work that has no relation to their skills, aptitude or training. (http://www.shadowstats.com/alternate_data/unemployment-charts)

    I’ve read that another 5-6% of our adult population is engaged in post-secondary education (unverified) of some sort usually with the premise that it will increase the future job prospects of said students. I honestly don’t think that the U.S. needs that many business majors and video game design engineers in the future.

    An economic system that idles so many people is wasteful to the extreme. A waste that fits hand in glove with empty commercial buildings, brownfields in cities, empty residential housing and vacant lots held by speculators.

    All of this waste is the result of the current political system with unabashedly favors the tiny minority of the wealthy over the general populace. We call it capitalism.

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  14. Ed Darrell says:

    In modern, industrial societies, one of the chief purposes of taxes is to provide revenue to the government so the government can intervene to provide stimulus, to goose demand, when demand isn’t great enough. This was the intent of J. P. Morgan after the crashes of 1893 and 1908, and even the stated understanding of Andrew Mellon, Hoover’s Treasury Secretary. It was a chief purpose of the Bretton Woods Conference to be certain the government of the Allies were on board with this policy, in order to provide a robust world economy built on robust national economies, the better to prevent war.

    Krugman notes that this is a time for textbook responses. Especially Samuelson and even Friedman, in their textbooks, proposed what Morgan now calls “socialism.” Bush and his allies, including Greenspan, proposed and implemented reckless experimentation with the American economy and the American people, stuff not in the textbooks. It’s time to stop the Mad Economist experiment, and get back to making the nation, and the world, work.

    Keynes’s most valuable observation was that it’s stupid, economically, for governments to stand by, watch a crash, and hope the victims recover, when the government can step in, ease or prevent the crash, and speed recovery, which provides great benefits to the economy and the government’s coffers. However, governments may have to spend into deficits to do that. So, Keynes said, let governments spend into deficits, then get the money back in taxes when the economy recovers.

    We used to have a rainy day fund in the U.S., one to keep us from the shoals of economic ruin. George W. Bush gave it away.

    We must rebuild it. Taxing those who made out like bandits seems a fair and just way to rebuild it, for the nation’s sake.

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  15. James Kessler says:

    To quote:
    Morgan K Freeberg says:
    June 28, 2011 at 1:06 pm
    The low tax mantra that started with Ronald Reagan has been a disaster all along. Lowering capital gains taxes has encouraged the wealthy to invest in high-yield, short-term investments that don’t employ many people. This casino economy is parasitical and drains resources away from long-term projects such as rail, wind, solar and geothermal power.

    And here was me, thinking the purpose of taxes was to raise revenue to fund the government’s vital services.

    Lets see…Republicans want to get rid of ethanol subsidies…but they want to keep the same exact subsidies for Big Oil.

    Yeah have fun, morgan, trying to argue that government policies aren’t used to guide the economy at times.

    Because I find it hilarious that a party that loves to claim its oh so for the free market so routinely acts to protect the trough that big businesses feed at.

    Sorry, a completely free market is a stupidly bad idea. The lack of oversight is one of the main reasons we got into this mess in the damn first place. Now kindly get your party to restore the government and the economy to the control of the people rather then the control of the powerful few.

    You and your fellow Republicans are so far out of touch with reality, Morgan, it’s not even funny anymore…it’s bordering on outright tragedy.

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  16. Pangolin says:

    Tax policies have been used to encourage or discourage various forms of behavior since God was in short pants. Ignoring reality again.

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  17. The low tax mantra that started with Ronald Reagan has been a disaster all along. Lowering capital gains taxes has encouraged the wealthy to invest in high-yield, short-term investments that don’t employ many people. This casino economy is parasitical and drains resources away from long-term projects such as rail, wind, solar and geothermal power.

    And here was me, thinking the purpose of taxes was to raise revenue to fund the government’s vital services.

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  18. Pangolin says:

    The economy is stagnant because of a lack of demand. There is a lack of demand for services, housing, consumer goods, automobiles and durable goods. This is because people simply don’t have money to spend.

    There are two reasons for this. The most unrecognized is energy prices. There is very little we can do today that does not result in the consumption of petroleum or natural gas. When the price of these items goes up there is simply less money to spend elsewhere.

    The second cause is low taxes. The low tax mantra that started with Ronald Reagan has been a disaster all along. Lowering capital gains taxes has encouraged the wealthy to invest in high-yield, short-term investments that don’t employ many people. This casino economy is parasitical and drains resources away from long-term projects such as rail, wind, solar and geothermal power.

    Thirty years of Herbert Hoover policies have us in another, Greater Depression. We have a dust bowl in Texas and Climate Change weather hammering the midwest. Anybody who thinks less government is getting us out of this one is insane.

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  19. James Kessler says:

    Morgan writes:
    The point is, our economy is anemic because it is being managed, centrally, by people who wouldn’t know what a free market was if it bit ‘em square on the ass.

    The point is, our economy is anemic because the Republican party wants it to remain that way until after the 2012 presidential election, are doing everything in their power to keep it that way using their cronies in Big Business.

    And that our economy was catastrophic before Obama because a bunch of right wingers who worship the free market like a cult let it run rampant with absolutely no controls or restraint which resulted in the rich and powerful using it to **** over the country and everyone in it, but themselves.

    Do remember Morgan it was you and your “free market” people who crashed the economy in the damn first place.

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  20. [...] is actually how I first became aware of Ed Darrell. A J.P. Morgan analyst, Michael Cembalest, did some research on the business experience of the [...]

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  21. Ed Darrell says:

    The point is, our economy is anemic because it is being managed, centrally, by people who wouldn’t know what a free market was if it bit ‘em square on the ass.

    Another indication that the elephant, those noble Asian and African species, are inappropriate symbols for today’s Republican Party.  No self-respecting elephant would have forgotten the causes of the current fiscal troubles.

    Our economy is anemic because of a gross failure of government to manage, specifically to prevent bubbles and enforce honesty and prudence rules.  It wasn’t over-management that caused the housing bubble, or its crash; it wasn’t over-management that caused the banks to invest unwisely.

    We’re in tough straits right now because Republicans (with a handful of Democrats) have dug in their heels against any assistance for people who are actually hurting.  We saved the banks, but consumers be damned, is Mitch McConnell’s mantra.

    And so we are.  We are especially damned if so many of us vote for Mitch McConnell and his fellow travelers despite his damnation of us.

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  22. Pangolin says:

    M. Freeberg has made a claim. The claim has been refuted in fact. Now he is attempting to move the goalposts in order to shift attention away from his original claim without conceding a point of fact.

    This, my friends is the essence of the Gish Gallop. The ever receding claim to emotion without addressing reality.

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  23. Excuse me Mr. Freeburg but it is the Right that makes the claim that an action taken by the private sector is always more efficient, moral, and valuable than an the same act taken by the public sector….The Right is notoriously ignorant of basic facts to the point of simple denial of reality.

    Uh, well somewhere I’m sure you can find a “Right” person who thinks just about anything. But you yourself said…

    Apparently the private sector cannot be trusted to do business fairly and accurately without the intervention and judgement of the public courts to referee it’s disputes.

    I’m just asking what makes it that way. Everything you are proposing, or seem to be proposing, depends on this premise. So I think this is a reasonable question I’m asking. Am I going to get a decent, coherent, sensible answer, or just a lot of hooey about “The Right said sillier things than The Left ever said”?

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  24. Pangolin says:

    Excuse me Mr. Freeburg but it is the Right that makes the claim that an action taken by the private sector is always more efficient, moral, and valuable than an the same act taken by the public sector. A claim that is provably false.

    The U.S. spends more per capita on health care than any country with a comparable per-capita income. At the same time there is little or no health care for many of it’s citizens and the overall results by several metrics are poorer. We pay double and get less.

    The Right is notoriously ignorant of basic facts to the point of simple denial of reality.

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  25. Ed Darrell says:

    Morgan, who had more private sector experience: Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, John Kennedy or Barack Obama?

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  26. Yes Pangolin, people will ultimately come to the conclusions about things they want to come to, and that includes you I suppose.

    Now perhaps this is the point where, at long last, you can fill in the missing piece. What is it about government that makes the people working within it, particularly wise? Scrupulous? How about those private-sector businesses, what is it about that that makes the people within them, stupid, ignorant, poorly-informed, endows them with bad judgment. Except Ed is pretty adamant that Barack Obama is from the private sector, so I guess the current President is the exception to that. What forces are at work that set this all up?

    Is it the pursuit of private wealth? There is some evidence to indicate, believe it or not, that some people who work within government not only aspire to personal wealth, but actually acquire it…so that’s probably not it. How say you?

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  27. Pangolin says:

    Apparently the private sector cannot be trusted to do business fairly and accurately without the intervention and judgement of the public courts to referee it’s disputes.

    In fact, the “invisible hand” of the ‘free market’ seems to lean awfully heavily on the long arm of the law to enforce it’s disputes between businesses and with individuals.

    After all, what would Monsanto’s monopoly on say, GMO soybean seed, be without an army of lawyers to demand payment from every farmer who plants soybeans in the U.S. Enforceable by the courts and law enforcement officers no less. It would be just another pompous demand by some rich bastards that meant nothing.

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  28. Ed Darrell says:

    In other words, it comes from suing people.

    Readers probably ought to be aware that in most jurisdictions, a majority of the lawsuits in almost all general courts are businesses suing other businesses.

    In federal litigation, in recent decades it’s been true that 75% to 90% of litigation was one business suing another.

    Even suing is a big exercise in the private sector.

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  29. Pangolin says:

    Off topic but to address M. Freeburg’s whine about ATM’s.

    Automation does, in fact, reduce the number of people employed. Specifically BANKS reduced TRANSACTION COSTS by substituting automation in the form of ATMs and voicemail system and ELIMINATING EMPLOYEES. This results in profits; the be all and end all of capitalism.

    Given that all other employers are also seeking to reduce their transaction costs by automating there is nothing but blind faith backing claims that any fictional “free market” will provide timely employment for displaced workers.

    You can’t quote economics because three economists couldn’t agree on one pizza order much less anything else. Economics is a crap field that refuses to align it’s output with physical reality.

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  30. Ed Darrell says:

    Black’s Law, 7th edition:

    private sector. The part of the economy or in an industry that is free from direct governmental control. Cf. PUBLIC SECTOR.

    * * * * * * *

    public sector. The part of the economy or an industry that id controlled by the government. Cf. PRIVATE SECTOR.

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  31. Ed Darrell says:

    Ed, I think you need to go off somewhere and re-group. What is your message about facts? Are they hard, stubborn, non-negotiable things that cannot be massaged?

    You’re right: I’m concerned here with how false propaganda, like your claim that Obama doesn’t have private sector experience, influences public opinion, thereby putting public policies on a collision course with stubborn facts. In such collisions, the public loses. Despite your ability to convince people facts don’t exist, they still do, and we can still stub our toes on them, or smash into them like a blind man hitting the wall at Wrigley Field full tilt.

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  32. Ed Darrell says:

    BusinessDictionary.com:

    private sector: The part of national economy made up of private enterprises. It includes the personal sector (households) and corporate sector (companies), and is responsible for allocating most of the resources within an economy. See also public sector.

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  33. Pangolin says:

    Mr. Freeburg demonstrates OP’s point exactly.

    You cannot have an honest discussion with most conservatives because…….

    a) they are immune to facts and are frequently caught “creating” facts (lying) in arguments in order to elicit emotional sympathy.

    b) They constantly move the goalposts of a conversation to deflect attention from said lies. Note: the redefinition of “private sector” exclusive of legal services by M. Freeburg.

    This process is commonly known as the “Gish Gallop” and the term and it’s exemplars should be studied by all who have to deal with conservatives in the public realm.

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  34. Ed, I think you need to go off somewhere and re-group. What is your message about facts? Are they hard, stubborn, non-negotiable things that cannot be massaged?

    Or can you package them with some glittery rhetoric, and cover them up when they happen to be inconvenient…like Obama blamed the ongoing recession on ATM machines. That’s a fact. Nobody with a good understanding of private-sector, free-market capitalism would have made that mistake. That is also a fact. Therefore, Obama demonstrated to us, irrefutably, that if we want this economy to recover, the wrong people are in charge. That’s a solid inference.

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  35. Ed Darrell says:

    In other words, it comes from suing people.

    No, that’s false. Suing people — enforcing rights assured by the Constitution, endowed to us by our creator, no matter how much you hate them personally — is not the bulk of work of attorney as a bunch, nor even of many attorneys in litigation firms.

    But when the profit does come from suing people, it’s a cause for celebration. Holding up our Constitution and the rule of law, enforcing democracy, is the work of God.

    I gather you see it differently. Tell us: What does Satan think of healing people and enforcing other rights?

    Barack Obama’s ENTIRE experience in the so-called “private-sector”…comes not from creating products or services, or helping to create products/services…but by moving money away from one person and toward another person — creating nothing.

    In his first private sector job, Obama took from nothing a small, start-up community building organization, starting with just a blessing from a Catholic priest to a $500,000/per year home-providing agency.

    I know that you conservatives think poor people should generally live in cardboard boxes, stay away from banks, have no jobs and no health care, in order to provide the cheapest-we-can-have-because-gosh-darn-it-slavery-is-illegal workforces — but what Obama did was an act of power entrepreneurship that created a community. He made a goddamned difference is what he did, more than most of us do. (See Taylor Mali).

    Taking money that does not belong to one person, and giving it to the person to whom it does belong, is a valuable service in a just society. Taking money from one who has injured a person and giving it to the injured person to make her whole is another valuable, value-added service in a just and compassionate society.

    By your definition, “moving money away from one person and toward another person,” all for-profit businesses create “nothing.”

    What you’re providing, Morgan, is an object lesson in how blind hatred destroys the hater. You guys — including those blogs I named in the post — so despise the caricature you’ve drawn of Obama that you will, literally, define away the better things of America, including freedom, democracy and free enterprise, in order to claim to oppose Obama.

    That was the point of my post. Facts are not flexible, vaporous things that make no difference in life or discussion. Facts are stubborn things — but the attempt to denigrate facts can be successful. That success comes at a high price. Many of us fear we are on the brink of losing our nation. You and your fellow-traveling truth-bashers shoulder a huge share of the blame.

    The problem, Ed, is not with whether your argument is worthy or not. The real problem has to do with the direction in which it’s moving over time…and it is not in a state of ascension. Here it is late 2011, unemployment is four points higher than its average during the terms of His predecessor.

    Thanks to the staunch opposition of people like you to doing what would decrease unemployment and help put our economy back where it should be. You were silent through the Bush/Cheney years of economic destruction, and now you’re loudly opposing all efforts to undo the damage.

    Yeah, we noticed that you don’t hesitate to throw unemployed people under the buses every day, so long as it gives you a rant against Obama.

    Obama’s blaming ATM machines.

    And then you tell whoppers like that, as if it sheds light, as if telling lies shows your compassion for your fellow humans. Really.

    Really, if the disagreement is about whether Obama understands how private works or not, it was settled when He made that Luddite, n00bie mistake. In fact, at that point it became clear Cembalest was on to something. He’d be well within reason right about now to go ahead & put his original article back up.

    But the argument isn’t over whether Obama understands how the economy works. The only argument is whether you can join Rush Limbaugh in making Obama fail, even if it costs us our nation, our economy, our lives and sacred honor.

    You could consult Milton Friedman’s textbook on what government should do in such a crisis — but if you did, you’d have to recast Friedman as a communist or a fool, or in some other way redefine who Friedman was and what he said to make Obama look bad.

    We know the game. It’s painful to watch, but we’ve seen it a lot.

    My questions are two: What would it take to get you to work for America and recovery? And, is there any chance you’ll ever stop twisting the facts to suit your biases?

    But I suppose you still want to stick to this line of “Obama knows exactly what He’s doing and anyone who says differently must be deficient in knowledge somewhere.” Alright, then you tell me. When do we get to see the effects of the wizardry possessed by all these geniuses in the Obama administration?

    Because if the answer is, we’re already seeing it…then that would have to mean they’re not defining success the way the rest of America would define it. It’s one or the other — Obama knows what He’s doing, or else He doesn’t — neither option is looking too appealing right about now.

    My point was simple: When you and others tell falsehoods repeatedly, it is destructive to discussion, and ultimately destructive to our nation — plus, it tells us that above all, we cannot trust what you say to be true or accurate.

    Like Michelle Bachmann, who is either oblivious or evil, you work hard to make a clever rant, and you avoid the key question at all costs.

    Did you know you were doing that? Does it even make you blush?

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  36. If the job doesn’t come with a federal, state, or local government paycheck it is by definition “private sector.”

    By definition? You have a definition you can show me?

    No, we’re not arguing definitions, we’re arguing opinions. And it is awfully hard to form an opinion that Obama’s job was in the “private sector,” meaning, should have given Him insight into how a free market works, disciplined Him to produce a product or service WITHIN a specific budget so a larger task can be completed at a profit. Something that would have expanded His horizons to such an extent that He’d have a real shot at fixing the nation’s economy…or at the very least…stay away from boneheaded comments about ATM machines.

    Keep track of the topic. Ed wants Pachyderm to change their headline because Obama has held a private sector job. Pachyderm’s complaint, on the other hand, is that Obama doesn’t know what He’s doing, and based on His background, how could He? Pachyderm is right and Ed is wrong…or right, only in Ed’s own opinion and according to absolutely nothing else.

    The point is, our economy is anemic because it is being managed, centrally, by people who wouldn’t know what a free market was if it bit ‘em square on the ass.

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  37. Pangolin says:

    If the job doesn’t come with a federal, state, or local government paycheck it is by definition “private sector.” In my opinion “private sector” is a definition that may only tangentially touch on such values as “ethical,” “honest,” or “hard-working.”

    Two examples from California.

    The “privatization” and “deregulation” of California’s public utilities market was gamed by Enron executives who bribed lawmakers to include legislation favorable to them. Then they used this legislation that they wrote to extort money from the state and citizens of California by deliberately turning OFF the power and demanding more money. Fraud, graft, blackmail and piracy all brought to you by the private sector.

    Butte County California where I live is a major rice growing region. The rice farmers inherited land stolen from native at gunpoint. They get water from state and federal water projects. They are serviced by county roads whose upkeep and maintenance are not covered by their taxes. They get electricity for their pumps at a discount thanks to rural electrification laws. They are exempt from fuel taxes for their vehicles. They get tax credits that virtually pay for their giant trucks. They get federal crop subsidies and price supports that sometimes exceed the market value of their crops. In short, it would be impossible for them to grow rice without state subsidies. Virtually every rice farmer is a Republican that touts “free markets” and sneers at “welfare bums.”

    I could type on this theme till my fingers fall off and never tell a lie. Private sector doesn’t confer automatic virtue. Selling alcohol and tobacco is private sector employment and results in hundreds of thousands of early deaths every year.

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  38. In other words, it comes from suing people.

    Barack Obama’s ENTIRE experience in the so-called “private-sector”…comes not from creating products or services, or helping to create products/services…but by moving money away from one person and toward another person — creating nothing.

    The problem, Ed, is not with whether your argument is worthy or not. The real problem has to do with the direction in which it’s moving over time…and it is not in a state of ascension. Here it is late 2011, unemployment is four points higher than its average during the terms of His predecessor. Obama’s blaming ATM machines. Really, if the disagreement is about whether Obama understands how private works or not, it was settled when He made that Luddite, n00bie mistake. In fact, at that point it became clear Cembalest was on to something. He’d be well within reason right about now to go ahead & put his original article back up.

    But I suppose you still want to stick to this line of “Obama knows exactly what He’s doing and anyone who says differently must be deficient in knowledge somewhere.” Alright, then you tell me. When do we get to see the effects of the wizardry possessed by all these geniuses in the Obama administration?

    Because if the answer is, we’re already seeing it…then that would have to mean they’re not defining success the way the rest of America would define it. It’s one or the other — Obama knows what He’s doing, or else He doesn’t — neither option is looking too appealing right about now.

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  39. Ed Darrell says:

    Profit comes from providing good service at a competitive price, — wills, due diligence on property purchases, good representation at trials, etc.

    Law is one of the most cut-throat businesses imaginable, especially if the firm has fewer than 100 lawyers. There is no constant flow of cash, generally. Lawyers use their personal money to finance the startup, and they use their personal monety to get through the slow times that most lawyers are very, very familiar with.

    In law there are those few wild entrepreneurs, those tort lawyers who take the case of the injured person who needs further medical attention, or the crippled person who needs life-long assistance. The attorneys finance the entire case on their own dime, knowing that if they lose, they lose everything they invest, and if they win, the judge will generally limit their profits to a small percentage over actual costs, with few exceptions. Tort lawyers tend to lose about 50 percent of the cases they get to trial, and so collect nothing from the work, though of course they must still pay the secretary, the phone company, the landlord, NEXIS-LEXIS and West subscriptions, investigators, exhibit makers, paralegals, and the rest. It’s a much higher-risk business than, say, oil wildcatting.

    The products are justice. Too many businessmen hate justice, especially when other people get it.

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  40. And the profit comes from…?

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  41. Ed Darrell says:

    Okay. What exactly was the private entity for whom he worked?

    It’s astonishing, really, how ill informed about business and the private sector are those who claim to be proponents of business, and anti-government.

    Large law firms generally are operated as partnerships, though many today incorporate as limited liability corporations (LLCs) — same as accountants and auditors, and anybody else who goes into business with someone else and chooses not to incorporate officially, or who formally establish the partnership. In our business law classes, we teach that there are essentially three different corporate forms, sole proprietorship, partnership, and incorporation.

    Banks have slightly different laws — it’s highly ironic to have a banker like Cembalest, in a highly-regulated-for-profit environment, claim someone else was not “in private business” though they bore the full brunt of competitive issues. But I digress.

    In 1993, Obama joined what is now Miner, Barnhill and Galland, a relatively small, high-impact law firm that operates in Chicago, Illinois, and Madison, Wisconsin.

    The firm is, in no way, a government agency. It is a for-profit partnership.

    If this bunch is not a “private sector,” then neither is any of the big accounting firms — not Ernst & Young (where, in my experience the profit-drive is much stronger than at most other private enterprises), not Deloitte and Touche, nor is IBM, Xerox, nor any other services producing company.

    Nor is any private practice physician, nor about half the for-profit hospitals and other health care deliverers in our nation.

    How ironic that you write out of “private enterprise” some of the most promising, high-growth, high-profit, bastions of conservative businessmen (you go tell the American Medical Association they are not businessmen).

    Important, too, that we see how pro-business, “hard-nosed” conservatives try to weasel around the facts when they get caught making bald-faced errors (my nice term) for arguments to defend immoral and destructive policies.

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  42. President Obama worked for a private group providing services to people below the poverty line, and then he worked for a very large private law firm, while teaching at the privately-run University of Chicago. He had never worked for government until his election to the Illinois State Senate…You should probably correct the headline.

    Any time a prog wants something changed, but wants to pick & choose which details are to be discussed, you need to be very careful and very wary. This might be why the comment didn’t make it out of moderation.

    Let’s just choose the details to be discussed — no matter how upset the libs get around it — based on the proposed headline change: Obama’s never held a private sector job, and you say He did. Okay. What exactly was the private entity for whom he worked? Who held the equity in it? Were His talents used to create a profit, by means of creating a product or service that did not exist previously, or were they overhead, making it somehow possible for someone else to create a product or service that did not previously exist? Who was the customer, and how was payment arranged from this customer?

    I first made your acquaintance when I saw this “law firms is private sector” argument of yours, took it seriously, looked into the details, and made your argument implode. I know, I know, Cembalest took a column down because he didn’t want to argue with you, so you’ll never see it as anything but a huge win. I suppose in liberal-advocacy-land, it is one. But here in reality, it’s hard to quantify law firms extorting money out of people as “private sector.” Their functioning is parasitical, and they cannot exist by themselves.

    But the real test is laying down the questions that naturally emerge from the point of dispute — not cherry-picking them to make one side look good, or the other — and pondering whether or not they can be answered reasonably. For a job to be private-sector, there has to be a private interest that’s getting satisfied, such that transactions are justified in a free-trade economy.

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