Translating plutocrat economic campaign-speak into plain English


49 Responses to “Translating plutocrat economic campaign-speak into plain English”

  1. Boundegar says:

    I agree with this 100%.  These debates are being presented in the most dishonest terms.  For forty years the right has gotten pretty much everything they asked for.  Early on, that merely meant balancing the budget on the backs of the poor.  But it escalated in the Bush years to the point where inequality has hollowed out our nation and made us incapable of tackling even modest goals.

    Imagine if the President today promised to put a man on the moon…  or announced a war on poverty.

    • BillStewart2012 says:

      Social Security used to work because the number of workers paying in was enough bigger than the number of retired people that a 15% tax on workers’ wages could subsidize pensions for the retired people. 

      But the demographics of the US population have changed enough that once the Baby Boomers retire, that won’t come close to working even without right-wing meddling.  Our parents’ generation averaged 3-4 kids each, but the Boomers have averaged 1.9 kids, and improved health and medical care means that retired people live a lot longer than they used to.  Social Security taxes are going to have to at least double if we’re going to maintain current pension rates, and hiding half of them as “employer contribution” doesn’t make it hurt any less.

      The Democrats say that the Social Security Trust Fund has enough money to last until 2036.  That seems like a long way away if you’re counting in Congressional election cycles, but if you count demographics, it’s when the middle of the Baby Boom generation will be 80, too old to go back to work at Walmart.  And that really only works if the Federal Government is fiscally responsible with the general budget, so it can run enough surplus to pay back the money that the Social Security Trust Fund invested in it – good luck with that!

      The Republicans haven’t been fiscally responsible under their last three presidents, and the Democrats think Keynesian deficit spending will stimulate the economy and hope it’ll be enough to pay for their social programs and for bailing out the Republicans’ messes, so I don’t see things getting better.  Hope I get to retire before I’m 75.

  2. Melinda9 says:

    Interesting to see Jamie Dimon/JPMorganChase is a member of Fix the Debt – how much bailout money did they receive? Like 90 billion, I think. Public assistance is okay when it’s for them.

    •  For the record, JPMC was forced to receive bail out funds along with a number of other institutions, by the FED.  They did this to hide the companies that actually needed bailouts.  JPMC along with most of the companies that were forced to take bail out money paid off their bail out debts at the first possible chance.

      You can look all of this up.  The best part of this was when the FED used the example of these companies paying off their bailout debt as proof that the bailout had worked.  When in fact, they had manufactured the results to ostensibly hide failing financial institutions.

      You can hate Jamie Dimon for a lot of things, but taking bail out funds is not one of them.  I’d also like to point out that JPMC was forced to acquire several institutions leading up to the bailouts to prevent their collapse.  Many people still have jobs today because JPMC accurately predicted the failure of the market.

      • Melinda9 says:

        Maybe I should have phrased it differently – I find it hilarious that this man wants to tell the federal government how to run its programs and allot its money.

      • wysinwyg says:

        Could you provide some links so that I may learn more about this?

        • Navin_Johnson says:

           I think his statement that all this was “forced” on JPMS is a bit of a stretch…

          • wysinwyg says:

            I suspected a little bit of exaggeration on his part, which is why I asked for the primary sources to see whether my suspicions were warranted.  The silence has been deafening.

          •  Been at my job all day.  No time for boingboing sadly.  Then I went to get drinks with friends.  Bit tipsy atm.  If the commentary is still open when I have a chance to grab docs for you I’ll post em. 

            Honestly though.  I shouldn’t be doing your research for you.  If you care about stuff like this and are going to make an argument, you should do so with a full understanding of the context.

            Also even if I do post “primary sources”.  You need to not trust me and do your own research and form your own opinions.  That is if you care.  If you don’t, that’s fine too.  But don’t arm chair anything.  Just let people who are willing to put in the effort carry the weight.  I know that can be hard to do.  But, it is important.

            Anyways I am going to sleep it’s 12:35 am and I have to be up in about 7 hours.  Night all.  I really will put in an effort to post some info before the comments lock.

          • wysinwyg says:

            Honestly though.  I shouldn’t be doing your research for you.  If you care about stuff like this and are going to make an argument, you should do so with a full understanding of the context.

            1. I didn’t make an argument, I asked for where you got the information to back up your argument.  2. I didn’t ask you to “do my research for me”, I asked you to back up the argument that you made with some actual evidence.

            Is your opinion actually based on anything at all?  All I see is excuses for why you shouldn’t have to back up your argument.

            You need to not trust me and do your own research and form your own opinions.

            I had planned on doing so but before making up my mind I wanted to see the material on which your opinion is based. It might lead me to a different conclusion than I otherwise might have come to had I not looked at the same stuff you did…you know, the obvious reasons for asking you how you came to the conclusion you did.


            Discusses the FED forcing JPMC to take on Bear.  This was not done because JPMC needed money.  This was done because Bear was insolvent.  JPMC happened to have the liquidity necessary to buy Bear.

            Quick google pulled this article which has a transcript of Jamie Dimon explaining TARP fund usage:


            And some specific background information on how JPMC profited from the TARP it was asked to take.


            Also admitting JPMC never needed the funds.

          • wysinwyg says:

             Thank you, Matt.

      • Navin_Johnson says:

        So they could raise salaries and avoid the trivial strings attached to TARP money. They still were suckling on the teat in various other ways, government backed debt, engineered interest rates etc. Furthermore, TARP doesn’t even reflect all the money they received or what the true cost helping these banks costs all citizens.

        I don’t think Dimon and crew would want to be subjected to a truly free market where the government doesn’t prop them up and make them appear much healthier than they are, and I don’t think they’d want to be subjected to what would happen to them in a legitimate Democracy with a well run government:  Serious investigations, regulations, imprisonment, breaking up, winding down, nationalization etc.

        • sdmikev says:

          Ah, see.  now we’re getting somewhere.  these guys don’t want anything at all to do with the free market.  ever. 
          What they want is quite literally 180 degrees different than the free market. 

  3. Navin_Johnson says:

    Fixers want to convince the public that a well-managed, hugely popular program that does not add to the deficit (it’s self-funded) is somehow in crisis and requires intervention in the form of various cutting schemes.

    This is why it boils my blood to see it referred to as an “entitlement” program. I’ve been paying in for 25 years now, it’s not some magic present that materialized out of nowhere.

    • bcsizemo says:

      I certainly wouldn’t go as far as well managed.

      If all things were equal, number of people paying in vs. people collecting, the value of the dollar, inflation, interest rates, and so on you could make a reasonable calculation to the pay in vs. pay out side of things.  But right now you have the boomers hitting 65 (and beyond) and that represented a spike in the number of people collecting vs. the number paying in.  Not to mention the sluggish economy creating less money being paid in.

      I’ve been paying in as well, but frankly the system needs to be overhauled to make sure it can be sustainable.  (I didn’t say privatized or individualized, but it can’t keep on paying out more than it brings in.)

      • Navin_Johnson says:

        Not to mention the sluggish economy creating less money being paid in.

        That is no fault of the structure of the program, in fact that’s something that can be laid at the feet of neoliberals and the elite business class that drives policy. This trashing of the economy also manufactures the budget crises that help the elite business class attack the social safety net, labor, and privatize public assets.

        But, I’m not sure what that has to do with the way S.S. is wrongly portrayed as a “free lunch”, which was the point I was making.

        • bcsizemo says:

          While the economic situation is not a fault of the program, the assumption that things would not deviate enough from the original baseline to guarantee long term sustainability is.  I can’t really fault people though, everyone does it.  People spend more when the economy is doing well, so do companies, so do governments.  (That’s not to say what happened with S.S., but lots of places have been burned by spending their reserves in times of plenty.)

          And you are right, what I said has nothing to do with S.S. being portrayed as a “free lunch”, it isn’t.  But it is a safety net which is going to fail unless something is done.  And right now the easiest two options are raise deductions for S.S. or decrease pay outs.  It isn’t a 401k you are paying into, what we pay in now is going to pay for someone else ahead of us.  It is redistribution of wealth in its simplest form.

    • Christopher says:

      I have a serious problem with programs that used to be called part of the “social safety net” now being called “entitlement programs”.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        Given that making a copy of a film now goes by the same word that we used to use for attacking, sodomizing and murdering the people on the ship next door, I wouldn’t be surprised if the semantic battle gets more heated.

  4. sdmikev says:

    Funny thing about SS.  All we have to do is remove the income cap on who pays in and it will be fully funded for all of eternity for those that are worried.
    One of the things that the republican pigs hate about that and Medicare is that they are programs that actually work.
    And we shouldn’t even be talking about raising the retirement age for eligibility, we should LOWER the early payout age to 59 1/2 – same as when you can start taking your IRA funds out – and get all the boomers out of the workforce who can afford it.
    The right wing in this country has gotten everything it wanted for 30 years – less regulation, lower taxes, lower wages for working people, etc..  and there are still your average schubs out there that still want to blame their fellow working stiffs, union members, people of color, etc.. for their woes.  Pretty amazing PR job by the filthy right wing as well, it would appear.

    • gtrjnky says:

      I agree, but it is not just republicans.

      • Boundegar says:

        I’m not aware of any Democrats who hate Medicare.  Some of the Blue Dogs, maybe, but their numbers are dwindling.

        Or were you thinking of Libertarians?

        • bcsizemo says:

          I think they were making the point that greed/power is not limited to the Republicans.  However they do seem to be more upfront about it than the Democrats.

          • Navin_Johnson says:

            Sadly, I have to agree. I am too cynical to believe that even though he has a mandate and the majority of U.S. citizens behind him that Obama will once again sacrifice in some kind of stupid “Grand Bargain”, which translates to neoliberals (dems and republicans) getting what they want once again.

            From the linked piece:

            3.“Bipartisan” means all of the rich. Fix the Debt is a pro-business ideological movement pretending to be a bipartisan group of concerned citizens. But the group is really just a coalition for the greedy, unpatriotic rich. There are plenty of financiers and other 1 percenters in the Democratic Party, and some of them have decided to join forces with their GOP counterparts to work toward a goal that means a great deal to all of them: Making the rich even richer.

      • sdmikev says:

        Enough with the false equivalency, please.
        I understand there are assholes in both parties, but only one party is trying to completely tear down the social safety net (as they have been for 40 years) and screw the middle class even more.
        And just for the record, my wife and I do very well, but I have been a “working man” all my life and I have the ability to feel empathy for other people and realize that I am not the only other person in the world.  Unlike the likes of Eric Cantor, et al.

        • Navin_Johnson says:

          If people can’t get over “my team vs. your team” they’re both going to screw us all over. While the GOP is miles worse, it’s a fact that there are Democratic leaders who will sell you out too. Uh, Simpson Bowles? All these other ‘grand bargain’ plans. If Obama and most of the Democrats were truly on the side of the 99%, they would not be using ridiculous terms like “fiscal cliff” and allowing this ‘crisis’ narrative. There would not be talk of ‘bargains’ and ‘compromise’. The GOP is in no position to get anything it wants here, and if they do, it’s because a lot of Democrats have similar interests too.  In the end Obama will ‘compromise’ once again into something that neoliberals would have been happy with all along. When liberals are afraid to criticize and make demands of The President (and Democrats) you can bet that they’ll only listen to those that do make demands: Their wealthy donors.

          The Fiscal Cliff Is an Artificial Crisis”

          • sdmikev says:

            I don’t disagree with you.  Which is why in my first comment, I was careful to say “right wing” rather than just republicans. 
            I guess I should have just said plutocrats.. :
            But I do think the dems are the lesser of two evils, as it were.

          • Marc45 says:

            I agree and would also add that people are basically pretty selfish.  Whether it’s with their money, their time or their ideas, most folks will opt for what helps them the most.  The problem that the working class has is they aren’t poor enough to throw in the towel and give up yet they don’t have the means to optimize their life in the current system.  In other words, the working class is somewhat indentured.

            A wealthy person can hire a good accountant and optimize their finances to minimize taxes even if it means living in a different country.  Joe the plumber doesn’t have that option.

            Then again, this is the way it’s been for thousands of years.  For instance, France is talking about a 75% top tax rate.  I wonder how many wealthy French residents are considering moving to one of their other houses in a country with a more favorable tax situation.  Unless you get rid of “financial wealth” you will always have this situation.

  5. SedanChair says:

    I enjoyed listening to NPR yesterday as they talked about “Cadillac” health care plans that encourage policyholders to “use too much health care” and then I thought “yeah, those decadent five-meal people, I want to make their lives shorter out of spite even if it means shortening my own”

    Re-Animated Boris Yeltsin 2016: Shorter Lifespans, Richer Plutocrats

  6. Kaden Harris says:

    But where are the sock puppet internet economists to enlighten us trough wallowing libtards?

  7. Thorzdad says:

    Jennifer Government, here we come!

  8. creesto says:

    I’m curious: I have never been wealthy, or even affluent, so I need some help here. Can someone who is or who has been please explain why the rich desire so much to become Super/Dynasty Rich? Let’s use Romney as an easy example. He is worth at least $250M in USD.  How much more would someone like that need? Why, why, why do they want to attack the middle and poorer classes’ safety nets when the annual impact on a wealthy person’s money is negligible?
    More and more, I am convinced that HUGE money turns most people sociopaths. Is that even possible? My former business partner is a text book sociopath, though not rich, so I am very familiar with the mindset, and the way the wealthy team up to beat the rest of us down, rather than taking the politicians to task for poor management, strikes me as just, well, bad.

    • Christopher says:

      I wonder if it’s true that huge amounts of money turns people into sociopaths or whether being able to amass huge amounts of money is a skill that’s especially effective when employed by a sociopathic personality.

      Of course I also want to be careful, especially when there’s very little evidence, about labeling all or even most wealthy people as sociopaths. It’s possible that many, if confronted with the realities that poor or even middle class people face, would feel sympathy and would want to do something about it. Their wealth, though, creates a bubble that allows them to remain unaware of the realities of poverty. They can read about it, but very few wealthy people have experienced poverty or seen it directly enough to make it anything other than an abstraction.

      One other thought: I’ve known quite a few conservatives who’ve said, “People are only poor because they choose to be.” I think they honestly believe it’s really that simple. Are they sociopaths? I don’t know. All that I do know is that such a belief is only evidence of profound and, in some cases, willful ignorance.

    • sdmikev says:

      Well, Romney was born into it, so there is that.
      Clearly there ARE those that are into the stratosphere as far as how much they “make” in income who are not sociopaths, but I also would like to know why it’s not enough to just be wealthy when it comes to those that also attack the middle class and the poor.
      And make no mistake, it is most certainly an attack.  There is class warfare, as someone famous one said, and the 1 percent are winning.
      Plenty have noted this, but it is so goddamned dangerous for such a small swath of the population to hold so much power (policy) and wealth.

      • strangefriend says:

         FDR was born into wealth.  That’s why his rich detractors used to say, “He’s a traitor to his class.”

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Can someone who is or who has been please explain why the rich desire so much to become Super/Dynasty Rich?

      They have high levels of fear and uncertainty and think that amassing vast wealth will make them secure. Pro tip: it doesn’t work. It only makes them more fearful because they now have more to lose.

      If you want an excellent sketch of the phenomenon, read Gone With The Wind with extra attention to Scarlett.

  9. jetfx says:

     This is very much like when these same folks talk about the wonders of the free market, and they really mean only the non-rich should enjoy market forces.

  10. KWillets says:

    I love Madlibs.  

  11. Cowicide says:

    In case you haven’t seen the “Mr. Burns explain Fiscal Cliff” yet…

  12. scyphers says:

    Taking the 3 elements listed above:

    1)  “Social Security does not add to the deficit” (paraphrasing).  Really? Are you sure about that When a program spends more than it takes in, that’s not a deficit?

    Of course, it’s true in that Congress has deemed Social Security to be “off books” for accounting purposes so the writer is correct, for a very narrowly defined version of “correct” and “true”.

    2) “The wealthy do not pay their fair share of taxes in the United States, which is a major reason there is a large deficit in the first place.” Please, define for me what a “fair share” is, other than “more”.

    3) “But the group is really just a coalition for the greedy, unpatriotic rich.” You just have to love ad homemim attacks in place of rational argument.

    • Navin_Johnson says:

      1) Really?  Yes.
      You are wrong:

      2) I’d settle with the rates during our historically prosperous years:

      So yes: MORE, and demanding that internet commentors write out an entire tax policy to satisfy you is ridiculous.

      4). That’s exactly what they are.

      • scyphers says:

         @Navin_Johnson:disqus :
        1) I read your rebuttal. The salient point there is:
        “In recent history, the revenue raised in payroll taxes was more than enough to cover the benefits that Social Security needed to pay out. The excess went into a trust fund, which has now accumulated roughly $2.5 trillion.

        “That money is not cash sitting in a vault somewhere. The federal government has loaned the money to itself, using the cash to pay for other expenses. The loan is in the form of special-issue Treasury bonds that earned $117.5 billion in interest in 2010, according to the latest trust fund report.”

        To emphasize — that money is not in a vault. The federal government has already spent it. As the federal government must borrow money to pay it’s bills, period, and all the money comes from the same bucket, we’re still spending more than we take in.

        2) And are you willing to support the same exemptions and loopholes that existed during that same period? The same ones that resulted in an effective tax rate at the top of 29-37% (depending on the specific year —

        And I’m not “demanding” you “write out an entire tax policy” — I’m asking you to define fair.  Here’s my definition of fair — the rich pay more than the poor and everyone pays the same pro rata percentage (if you make $10,000, you pay $1k, if you make $10,000,000, you pay $1M). Not that I’m arguing for a 10% tax rate, but for a simple and consistent tax policy.

        3) (I’ll go ahead and correct that numbering for you) Nice to know you’re arguing from emotion on this one….

  13. Wiki-Truths says:

    It’s easy – it’s like when you watch or read the news – Listen to what they are saying and the EXACT OPPOSITE is the truth. This world sucks so hard.

  14. KWillets says:

    4.  “Pluto” means a no-good asteroid that thinks it can become a planet by robbing the poor.

  15. Ian G says:

    One of the worst offenders of using the plutocracy framing is “Liberal” NPR. Just skimming the “Talk of the Nation” podcast show list for the week or so gives me titles like “Tackling the Deficit Stalemate: What to Cap and Cut” and “To fix the Debt: Compromise is Key” They’ve swallowed this garbage hook, line and sinker.

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