The Great Consolidation

blacklib
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The Great Consolidation

Post by blacklib » Mon May 17, 2010 5:55 pm

The Great Consolidation
By ROSS DOUTHAT
This feels like a populist moment. Americans are Tea Partying. Greeks are rioting. Incumbents are being thrown out; the Federal Reserve is facing an audit; Goldman Sachs is facing prosecution. In Kentucky, Ron Paul’s son might be about to win a Republican Senate primary.

But look through these anti-establishment theatrics to the deep structures of political and economic power, and suddenly the surge of populism feels like so much sound and fury, obscuring the real story of our time. From Washington to Athens, the economic crisis is producing consolidation rather than revolution, the entrenchment of authority rather than its diffusion, and the concentration of power in the hands of the same elite that presided over the disasters in the first place.

Consider the European situation. For a week after Greece’s fiscal meltdown began, all the talk was about the weakness of the European Union, the folly of its too-rapid expansion, and the failure of the Continent’s governing class to anticipate the crisis.

But then the E.U. acted, bailing out Greece to the tune of nearly a trillion dollars, and dictating economic terms to Athens that resemble “the kind of thing a surrendering field marshal signs in a railway car in the forest at the end of a bloody war,” in the words of the Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum. If the bailout succeeds, the E.U.’s authority over its member states will be dramatically enhanced — and a crisis created by hasty, elite-driven integration will have led, inexorably, to further integration and a more powerful elite.

This trajectory should be familiar to Americans. The panic of 2008 happened, in part, because the public interest had become too intertwined with private interests for the latter to be allowed to fail. But everything we did to halt the panic, and all the legislation we’ve passed, has only strengthened the symbiosis.

From the Troubled Asset Relief Program to the stimulus bill, from the auto bailout to health care reform, we’ve created a vast new array of public-private partnerships — empowering insiders at the expense of outsiders, large institutions at the expense of small ones, and Washington at the expense of state and local governments. Eighteen months after the financial crisis, the interests of our financiers, C.E.O.’s, bureaucrats and politicians are yoked together as never before.

A similar, quieter consolidation has taken place in the realm of national security. After campaigning against the Bush administration’s foreign-policy overreach, President Obama has retained nearly all of the war powers that George Bush took up in the wake of 9/11.

Yes, some of the previous administration’s more sweeping claims have been repudiated. But the basic post-9/11 architecture of executive power — expansive powers to detain, interrogate and assassinate, claimed for the duration of an open-ended war — looks destined to endure for presidencies to come.

Taken case by case, many of these policy choices are perfectly defensible. Taken as a whole, they suggest a system that only knows how to move in one direction. If consolidation creates a crisis, the answer is further consolidation. If economic centralization has unintended consequences, then you need political centralization to clean up the mess. If a government conspicuously fails to prevent a terrorist attack or a real estate bubble, then obviously it needs to be given more powers to prevent the next one, or the one after that.

The C.I.A. and F.B.I. didn’t stop 9/11, so now we have the Department of Homeland Security. Decades of government subsidies for homebuyers helped create the housing crash, so now the government is subsidizing the auto industry, the green-energy industry, the health care sector ...

The pattern applies to personnel as well as policy. If Robert Rubin’s mistakes helped create an out-of-control financial sector, then naturally you need Timothy Geithner and Lawrence Summers — Rubin’s protégés — to set things right. After all, who else are you going to trust with all that consolidated power? Ron Paul? Dennis Kucinich? Sarah Palin?

This is the perverse logic of meritocracy. Once a system grows sufficiently complex, it doesn’t matter how badly our best and brightest foul things up. Every crisis increases their authority, because they seem to be the only ones who understand the system well enough to fix it.

But their fixes tend to make the system even more complex and centralized, and more vulnerable to the next national-security surprise, the next natural disaster, the next economic crisis. Which is why, despite all the populist backlash and all the promises from Washington, this isn’t the end of the “too big to fail” era. It’s the beginning.

Great article, best I've read in a long time.

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WileyWolverine
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by WileyWolverine » Mon May 17, 2010 8:23 pm

Yes, this is a really good piece of journalism. It's too bad that the great majority who voted for Obama can't read or understand its message.
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Fordama
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by Fordama » Tue May 18, 2010 7:13 am

WileyWolverine wrote:Yes, this is a really good piece of journalism. It's too bad that the great majority who voted for Obama can't read or understand its message.
Douthat is a good writer.

Guys like him and David Frum lend hope to those of us who are waiting for the Republican Party to come out of its intellectual stupor and quit following the leads of the Limbaugh-Beck-Coulter types.

Fordama
This country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them.---JFK

blacklib
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by blacklib » Tue May 18, 2010 9:23 am

WileyWolverine wrote:Yes, this is a really good piece of journalism. It's too bad that the great majority who voted for Obama can't read or understand its message.
You can add McCain voters too.

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Calibaby
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by Calibaby » Tue May 18, 2010 10:12 am

Fordama wrote:Douthat is a good writer.

Guys like him and David Frum lend hope to those of us who are waiting for the Republican Party to... quit following the leads of the Limbaugh-Beck-Coulter types.

Fordama
In this case, "those of us" would be defined as liberals.

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kramer
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by kramer » Tue May 18, 2010 10:25 am

blacklib wrote: Great article, best I've read in a long time.
It's not an article, it's an opinion piece.
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Fordama
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by Fordama » Tue May 18, 2010 10:34 am

Calibaby wrote:In this case, "those of us" would be defined as liberals.
Oh, you identify as a liberal?

Fordama
This country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them.---JFK

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Calibaby
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by Calibaby » Tue May 18, 2010 10:42 am

Fordama wrote:Oh, you identify as a liberal?

Fordama
What is this world coming to when a teacher can't understand grammar or context?

Oh, thats right, you teach math. Never mind.

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Fordama
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by Fordama » Tue May 18, 2010 12:59 pm

Calibaby wrote: What is this world coming to when a teacher can't understand grammar or context?
I didn't know you were a teacher.

Fordama
This country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them.---JFK

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e. rosewater
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by e. rosewater » Tue May 18, 2010 1:13 pm

Fordama wrote:Douthat is a good writer.

Guys like him and David Frum lend hope to those of us who are waiting for the Republican Party to come out of its intellectual stupor and quit following the leads of the Limbaugh-Beck-Coulter types.

Fordama
I left the GOP when it got hijacked by the evangelical movement. Many of the policies now being pushed by the Obama administration originated in the GOP some 20 years ago. When the GOP gets back to being interested in governing and not being part of the Luddite crowd exemplified by Limbaugh-Beck-Coulter types, I might give them the consideration of being a sensible group. Until then they are rapidly becoming a sideshow.
What hypocrisy looks like.

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joefutbol
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by joefutbol » Tue May 18, 2010 1:23 pm

Calibaby wrote: What is this world coming to when a teacher can't understand grammar or context?

Oh, thats right, you teach math. Never mind.
You sound confused.

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Calibaby
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by Calibaby » Tue May 18, 2010 2:22 pm

Fordama wrote:I didn't know you were a teacher.

Fordama
It is very obvious that there is quite a bit that you don't know.

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Fordama
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by Fordama » Tue May 18, 2010 2:27 pm

Calibaby wrote: It is very obvious that there is quite a bit that you don't know.
Irony. I get that.

Fordama
This country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them.---JFK

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Calibaby
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by Calibaby » Tue May 18, 2010 2:34 pm

Fordama wrote:Irony. I get that.

Fordama
DING DING DING

We have a winner folks!!

Fordama has just used the same response for the 100th time, setting a forum record for most uses of a trite response when stumped for something original to say. He beat the previous record holder "Oh Yeah?? Well what about the Mexicans?" set by Beverito earlier this year.

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Fordama
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by Fordama » Tue May 18, 2010 3:02 pm

Calibaby wrote: DING DING DING

We have a winner folks!!

Fordama has just used the same response for the 100th time
The classics never go out of style, especially when some forum users make the same mistakes over, and over, and over again.

Fordama
This country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them.---JFK

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Brooke
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by Brooke » Tue May 18, 2010 3:37 pm

Fordama wrote:Irony. I get that.

Fordama
DING DING DING
Calibaby wrote:We have a winner folks!!

Fordama has just used the same response for the 100th time, setting a forum record for most uses of a trite response when stumped for something original to say. He beat the previous record holder "Oh Yeah?? Well what about the Mexicans?" set by Beverito earlier this year.
Do me a favor and don't slur my name or attribute to me things that I do not say. Thanks so much.
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Calibaby
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by Calibaby » Tue May 18, 2010 6:40 pm

Brooke wrote: DING DING DING


Do me a favor and don't slur my name or attribute to me things that I do not say. Thanks so much.
You got it Beverito, you do a good enough job slurring your own name that you don't need any help from me.

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Fordama
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by Fordama » Wed May 19, 2010 7:33 am

e. rosewater wrote: Many of the policies now being pushed by the Obama administration originated in the GOP some 20 years ago.
Indeed. Take cap and trade, for instance. It was a Republican free market scheme to clean up the environment that has been very successful with controlling emissions. Leftist screamed about it because they wanted direct government control over emissions, not letting the free market control them.

But now since many in the Party have moved so far to the right, they paint a cap and trade as though is was authored by Fidel Castro!

The Health Care bill that was just passed has a whole lot of similarities with what an expert from The Heritage Foundation said several years ago; http://www.heritage.org/Research/Testim ... e-Coverage

But because these things are being championed by some in the Democratic Party a great deal of people who call themselves conservative simply react with knee-jerk opposition. The followerships of Limbaugh-Beck-Coulter are not conservatives, but reactionaries.


Fordama
This country of the United States was not built by those who waited and rested and wished to look behind them.---JFK

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GOODave
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by GOODave » Wed May 19, 2010 7:51 am

e. rosewater wrote: I left the GOP when it got hijacked by the evangelical movement. .
HEY, we only kep' it for a short while. Unfortunately, by the time we gave it back, the neo-conservatives had taken it and you were busy lapping up the pearls dripping from the Obama.

--:--

Sorry, we didn't know you were interested or we would have offered it back to you, first.

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GOODave
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Re: The Great Consolidation

Post by GOODave » Wed May 19, 2010 7:55 am

Fordama wrote:
The Health Care bill that was just passed has a whole lot of similarities with what an expert from The Heritage Foundation said several years ago; http://www.heritage.org/Research/Testim ... e-Coverage
I'm sure it was just a coincidence that most of what Butler said in that testimony found its way into one or more of the Republican Health Care Reform proposals that are still, so far as I know, dead in the committee, never having been even heard.

"a whole lot of similarities" are not particularly difficult to come up with. If you were paying attention, though, you MIGHT have heard a whole lot of dissimilarities about which the "limbaugh/beck/coulter" types were and are complaining.

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