Saturday, May 16, 2009

The very definition of Chutzpah.

The Yiddish word "chutzpah" is one of those words with a meaning that is best defined anecdotally, as it applies to audacity, but audacity of a very specific kind.

The most common explanation is that "chutzpah" describes the little boy on trial for murdering his parents who pleads for the court's mercy on the grounds that he's an orphan.


Anonymous said...

Jesus, someone break out the industrial strength clue x four and gobsmack the stupid out of him. Who the heck does he think he's fooling?

Canthros said...

Looks like he's complaining about debt, rather than the spending that created the debt. BOHICA, because that means it's time for a tax hike.

WV: morotc
That'll be the lieutenants-in-training that ride the short bus.

An Accountant said...

Amazing, I would wager most of you have been asleep for years as to the TRUE debt piled up in the last 4 years under the Republicans. Yeah, Obama has added almost 2 trillion this year. We can argue all day if the economic model being relied upon by a lot of people is right or wrong. But its a fact that a lot of that money is in tax rebates to the people & businesses taxed. Thus its (again) a deferral of taxes. You will have to pay it later, but you get it now. If you don't need that money, invest it. What you don't know is that we have effectively run $2.5 Trillion in deficits in the prior 4 years, EACH YEAR. If we don't fix medicare, medicaid, and social security then it doesn't matter which party wins. Don't believe me, read it here:

A correcting accountant said...

Oh, before you get all upset guys, its BOTH parties faults. I am not slinging mud just at the party of Reagan. Its a problem for us that's bigger than anything short of nuclear war, literally.

alath said...

Accountant: if you want to point to the gravest Bush sin against fiscal responsibility, it has to be Medicare Part D (the Prescription Drug Fiscal Catastrophe). This is projected to cost $8 trillion by the time we're through the boomers.

This 57 second web video outlines the scope of our unfunded fiscal obligations:

This 30 minute video outlines the problem in a thorough (and thoroughly frightening) way:

And I agree this is a two-party mess. For the last 30 or 40 years, every time the Democrats come in to power they say "we'll buy you everything you could possibly want or need." And every time the Republicans come in to power they say "You can keep all the stuff the Democrats gave you, and you don't have to pay for it."

You don't have to be an accountant or an econ major to see where that merry-go-round will take us.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, everyone is focusing on the bleeding from the stimulus, and its not pretty. But this stuff is like having a torn femoral artery, ignore it for much longer and its GG. (GG = Good Game, as in game OVER)

the pawnbroker said...

anon at 9:54 am: "Who the heck does he think he's fooling?"

i'd say about 99% of media, and about 52% of everybody else.

and agreeing with the accountant and living up to tam's definition, his defense of choice is apparently:

"waaaahhh! he hit me first so i blew his ass up!...sob!"


wv: litterati and glitterati, but more profane.

Anonymous said...

"We can't keep borrowing..."
So we have to raise taxes.
"...shared responsibility..."
No one person or group is to blame for anything; we are all to blame for everything. Therefore, we must spread the cost around, equally.
Probable solutions:
1. Set maximim income at $250,000; everything above that is taxed at 100%.
2. Health care costs need to be cut; health care will be provided to those who are in, or capable of being in, the work force. Everyone over 65 will be given cheap pain meds and sent home. No heroic measures, CPR, cardioversion, or surgery, will be allowed on those who have an obligation to die to save the economy.

I think Obama's economic policies are working exactly the way he wants. When the economy has been destroyed and unemployment is 50%, it will be easier to cancel elections, confiscate all private property to "promote the general welfare," and go to a one party system to protect us from the "greedy capitalists who caused this mess in the first place."
Remember, to have change, you have to break a few eggs.

Tam said...

"Amazing, I would wager most of you have been asleep for years as to the TRUE debt piled up in the last 4 years under the Republicans."

You're new here, aren't you?

Yeah, that's me, buddy, a big ol' GOP cheerleader...

Oh, and since when did "But... but... he did it too!" become an acceptable rebuttal to anyone other than your kindergarten teacher? I had to listen to that crap with every boner W. pulled for the last eight years "But... but... Clinton!"

Wake me when political discourse in this country can be distinguished from that heard around the teeter-totters.

rickn8or said...

In terms of fiscal irresponsibility, it's as one commenter said "Obama burns your house down and then points out that George Bush once lit a match."But yeah, it seems that the Presidents have been playing "THAT's nothin'; watch THIS!" for the last couple of decades.

Anonymous said...

Look, you are worrying about someone playing with the lighter fluid and the charcoal grill while your home is burning down. I know you are not waving pom-poms for the GOP. I am just saying that this is a LOT of anger and revolution about the much SMALLER problem facing all of us. Yeah, smaller problem, read the article link. $10 TRILLION additional debt on those 3 programs from 2004 to 2008. That's the ticking time bomb. I'm not making excuses for ANYONE. This is the first thing that must be fixed.

Brian Dale said...

"Wake me when political discourse in this country can be distinguished from that heard around the teeter-totters."

Uh-oh. We'll remember you fondly. Thanks for a lot of good writing over the past several years, and Hello, Tam Van Winkle.

Jenny said...

.. and when W tried to address it in '04 ("I'm spending my political capital on this") he got shut down hard, Congressional majority notwithstanding. (What he'd actually tried to accomplish if he WASN'T shut down is another whole kettle, what with the drug expansions mentioned.)

At this point... I don't think it's going to be fixed before we hit the wall. Heck, at this point I'm skeptical it's even possible.

But even if it was at this late date - I'm honestly torn. I don't think many of the folks on the Hill are unaware of the problem either. At best, I think they're too attached to their power to risk it by saying the obvious.

At worst....I don't think Emmanual's the only one looking for a crisis. And that's scary.

Joseph said...

I think what will happen is that the "retirement" age will continue to be raised until it comes close to the life expectancy. At 45, I have to work until 67 for full benefits.

I do wonder how much of Medicare's money goes into the program in benefits vs. how much just goes to run it.
Bear in mind that many drug companies charge higher prices in the US "because they can afford it" (uh, not).

Jacopo said...

You are my hero of the day, just for the Destry Rides Again reference.

I have no comment fit to print regarding the linked article.

Ed Foster said...

Joseph, the higher prices in the U.S. reflect the difference between going broke and showing a profit to the stock owners (your 401k and mine). Corporate types who don't show a profit eventually end up running the night shift at McDonalds. I've heard the story many times from all the medical types in my family.

In the U.S., it costs about half a billion dollars to research, develop, and test a new drug, from inception through certification. It's cheaper in Europe, due to less stringent standards, but not many drugs are developed over there, because there's no profit, and the science is often rather shaky.

Even European drug companies get most of their testing done here, because the quality of research and overall medicine is much higher, and the possibility of faked/fudged research is dramatically lower.

The rest of the world gets carried on America's back, a cheap if not free ride for them, because they refuse to pay anything but actual production costs per unit.

It still helps us, as amortizing production costs over ten million pills a month, rather than a U.S. only two million a month, cuts the price per pill considerably.

The option is either the foriegners unilaterally refusing to pay anything and making pirate copies, which has happened dozens of times since the 1940's, or not having the medicine at all.

And no, international patents are not enforceable if the infringer is a government that refuses to be sued.

As for the cost of running MediCare, a safe bet would be something in the same range as the typical state's welfare overhead, call it 40% to 50% of gross.

A question I would ask is this: barring a total shakeup (there is one possible) of the political system, what is the possibility of well intentioned people setting up a "Shadow" government to bail them out when it all hits the fan?

Yes, I know one already exists, but I don't want to become a Mormon. Nice people, salt of the earth and all that, but the theology is even more far-fetched than most of the fairytales we tell our children, and you're required to pretend that you believe it.

Still, they have the best health care system in the world for the tithe they give their church, they buy their food in bulk, by the truck and trainload, and are required to keep firearms and a year's supply of snacks and ammo.

Not a bad religion for getting through some really hard times, and I suspect they'd have a LOT of pull in a post-apocalyptic America.

How about setting up something comparable without the mummery? A non-profit corporation that stockpiled food for member/shareholders, always maintaining a few months supply in it's warehouses scattered around the country?

Collective buying of common drugs, pooling of intellectual resources (lots of politically conservative retired teachers, doctors, lawyers, and engineers out there), the list could be expanded dramatically.

Ammo? Certainly. Firearms? Within the limits established by law, from dealers who were also members.

And all on the cheap or free, and again, strickly within the law.

Home schooling is more or less tolerated throughout the country. How about taking it up a notch, with conservative teachers (yes, there are some) teaching small classes rotated through members homes and providing professional supervision of parental mentoring skills for a larger share in the corporation?

If government confiscation during bad times was a possibility, for "The Common Good", the "warehouses" could be the garages of members, and dispersal of the goodies could happen in hours.

Gunclub members could encourage other "Private Americans" to join up, and/or bring them to their clubs as guests, to get them the training needed to be responsible gun owners and gun handlers. And also get them licensed and grandfathered before the gravy hits the fan.

"Oh come all ye faithful".... In the original Latin, "Adeste Fideles".

As the Roman empire was failing, groups of people banded together and took oaths to protect each other's welfare. Fideles, or sworn men.

I don't think I'm being melodramatic to think we might well be facing similar times in the near future. Any takers?

Jenny said...

It's an interesting idea Ed.. offhand I confess to a little dubiousness - "intentional communities" rarely survive without some form of "mummery" holding them together, and much of the practical benefits you mention are already available through smaller-scale voluntary cooperative efforts (food co-ops, homeschooler groups, range clubs, etc.) More to the point... if someone's concerned about disruptions to the point of needed extended food storage (for instance), are they *really* going to be that interested in buying a warehouse receipt as opposed to putting their own personal stock physically in the pantry?

That's not to say I think the *principle* is a bad one - it does have some appeal. But I think it will take a stronger connection between the people involved - how are you envisioning that?

.... and I'd be lying if Cahill's takes of Irish monasteries keeping the light burning hasn't come to mine frequently this last year or so.

Ed Foster said...

Jenny: Points well taken, and I appreciate the critique.

Common buying, not common storage, as a start. It would be much more difficult, both operationally and politically, for the JBT to raid tens of thousands of homes rather than a few dozen common collection points. Also, it would be a bonding point, a place where different kinds of conservatives and minarchists could find a common goal.

And the big problem you lay bare is the twin question of organization and cohesion.

Enthusiasm grows upon enthusiasm. How do we get this group of disparate people united enough to become a nationwide movement with a little political clout? Something like the old Liberal Party in New York City.

The Libs could never win an election on their own, but they often held the swing vote that gave the Democrats victory, and used it to push the party further left than many blue collar Democrats were comfortable with.

For reference, after the blue collar types left the party in the '60's and '70's, they folded into the party proper, no longer having any differences with the eliteist socialist element.

I have no strongly held religious beliefs beyond the thought that, in moderate amounts, it teaches children the golden rule while they're still young enough to absorb it, and it gives them something safe to rebel against when they're fourteen and know everything.

But we need the support of fundamentalists as well as free thinkers, staid Episcopalians and bead rattling Portuguese immigrants for this movement to become something large enough to work. If it's nothing more than a loosely connected confederation of squabbling fringies, the media will marginalize it and Jon Stewart will make it an object of ridicule.

Starting with food purchases, sharing of skills, the beginning of an alternate school system for people not well enough off to afford private or parochial, it would have to grow into a non-denominational support network that could become the skeleton of something more if and when things went pop.

It might not ever be strong enough to save the country, bring it back to what it had been, but it could delay the collapse by pushing the Republicans a tad further right, as the Liberals did in New York.

Who knows, the Republicans might decide to grow a collective pair, wave certified copies of Barry's Kenyan birth certificate and Indonesian passport, and demand an impeachment.

If they got it, every bill he's signed would be null and void, and we could start over with a budget closer to a trillion bucks and a dramatically smaller federal government.

If they didn't get it, they could say (truthfully) that it was an illegal government, leave en masse, and remind everyone in the military and police forces of their oath to protect against all enemies domestic and foriegn.

Either way they could bring down the Democrats and throttle their supporters in the bureaucracy and media.

Will it happen? Possible but doubtful. But with the "Private American" thing set up and running in parallel, some of us would have an option.

Explain it to the media as a traditional American form of true government, operated as a viable alternative to a bureaucracy obsessed suicide train with no brakes.

Imagine the systemic shock when two members had a disagreement over a business dealing, submitted it voluntarily to a people's court, and accepted it's ruling as legitimate.

Rocketv said...

A little known fact about Medicare/Medicaid (At least here in Indiana) is that they are administered by for-profit companies; three of them, I think. At first this makes me angry, but then I think "They have to be able to do a more efficient job than the Gubment". Of course this pre-supposes that they aren't robbing the system.