What is Transformational Change?

What is transformational change?

Few phrases are so widely used and more poorly defined in the lexicon of the progressive blogosphere than "tranformational change." It's a good thing (apparently), but no one seems to be able to say exactly what the hell it's supposed to mean.

I'd like to put forward an idea about what I think that it means, and why I think that John Edwards is the transformational candidate.

Sometimes the best way to undestand a concept is to first understand its antithesis.

We know the what the Devil is because it's the opposite of God.

In a certain sense particular words and phrases are essentially dichotomous.  Take the example of democracy, for the most part we know what is democratic, because we know what is not.

Life's a complex thing, and the truth of the matter is that most of us reduce the complexity of life through the creation of cognitive frameworks.  We routinize life.  Rather than drawing up a grocery list, and going to each store in the area, and locating the best value for the best price, we simplify our life through routinizing the thing.  

We all have our favorite stores and restaurants, and even though if we take the time to try other options we may find that other businesses are better we don't.  Why?  Because most people satisfice, we get something acceptable, and once we found something that works we stick with it.  My father has a favorite restaturant, he eats there at least 4 times a week.  There are other restaurants in town, but he will always go to this particular restaurant.  Why?  Because he know with a reasonable degree of certainty that he will get what he's always gotten before.  He has his acceptable set of dishes, and he knows that he'll get his money's worth.  Now from time to time he may get overcooked chicken, but he knows with a reasonable degree of certainty based upon previous experience how often that will happen. And as a consequence, he can discount his expectations for it.

This is a stable system, I can assure you that the chance of it changing is minimal.  I've actually seen him get mail delivered to him at the restaurant.  This is an enduring comittment. So if this is certainty, where our understanding of the world gives us the power to estimate with some certainty the consequences of decisions.  i.e. Don't get the chicken tenders on Thursday, the cook doesn't wash his hands.  Economists call this type of stability equilibrium.

Now what does it take to bring change?  What would have to happen to make my father stop going to his favorite restaurant?
It would take effort, if he consistently received raw chicken for a few weeks, that might do the trick.  What happened?  Economists would call this an equilibrium punctuation.  My father had an understanding about what the balance of risks and rewards is, that particular set of expectations has been popped.  Hell, he doesn't know if they're going to bring him out a live chicken the next time he comes.  Not only is there an element of random chance.  It's random chance that can't be interpreted through the set of expectations that previous experience has provided him.  He doesn't understand why this happened.

So let's say that my father talks to guy in line at the grocery.  This guy owns another restaurant and he tells my father that the problem is that his old restaurant (the one that brought out the raw chicken) was bought up by an evil multinational corporation.  But this guy in the checkout line owns a family restaurant and invites my father to come on down for a meal.  

He goes.  The meal was good.  My father now understands that the problem was that corporate food is crap.  He now has a new 4 time a week place.  His certainty about the way that restaurants work has been restored.  Economist would say that we've got a new equilibrium here.  It's not only restaurants that work this way, it's also politics.

One of the best books that I have ever read is Mark Blyth's Great Transformations:Economic Ideas and Institutional Change in the Twentieth Century.

Blyth starts the book of by telling the story of talking to his father after Thatcher was relected PM, and not understanding how a butcher like his father who did not benefit from Thatcherite policies, supported the Tories. In the end, Blyth chalked it up to the power of ideas.  The Winter of Discontent in the late 1970's and the severe economic dislocation caused by the economic downturn brought on by the energy crisis, puncutated the postwar understanding that the state should intervene in the economy to protect the little guy.  Because of something totally unrelated to British politics, the energy crisis, the existing set of expectations was puncuated.  The Brits (like all of us) craved certainity, Thatcher offered new ideas about how to understand the world.  

The state went from being a champion of the working man, to the robber of his wages through taxes.  Social democracy was said to have make the British economy weak. Thacherism, cutting taxes, was a new idea about how to create certainty.  The earlier equilibrium of social democracy shifted to neo-liberalism.  The same thing happened in the United States.

The conservatives never really rose until the 1970's, when conservative thinktanks offered up new ideas about the way the economy worked. Taxes were no longer to be seen as the price of civilization, they were a theft of hard earned money. The idea that we live in a society where people are interconnected, gave way to a pathological individualism that said that greed is good.  

Whether it's union density which has declined from nearly a third the workforce in 1964 to less than 1/8th in 2005. The death of the middle class neighborhood as we increasingly divide into rich and poor (and never the twain shall meet.) Or just the disconnect between productivity growth and wage growth, as Americans work more for lower real wages.  There's a full load of statistics that show what most working Americans know because they're living it.  We live in a country in which there is a massive redistribution of income, from those who live by work to those who live by wealth.

In the words of Mr. Blyth, there's been an equilibrium punctuation.  The old ideas that the Republicans and the Rubinite wing of the Democratic party have been pushing have been showing to be horribly wrong.  Deregulation brought us rolling blackouts, and the accounting frauds at Enron, Worldcom, and the others.  Free trade without safety standards has led to the deaths of hundreds of pets, and a the solemn realization that it could have been hundreds of people poisoned by tainted Chinese imports.  The Bush tax cuts have shifted the burden of paying for government services onto a work, empowering the wealthy to live of the efforts of others.  And Grover Norquist's desire to make government small enough to drown in a bathtub, made possible the drowing of thousands of American citizens in an American city, because the ability of the government to deal with crisis was crippled.

The old ideas of the Republicans and their neo-liberal collabrators have been shown to be miserable failures.  The time has come for change.  The question is what they nature of that change will be transitional or transformational.

For me transformational change is defined most powerfully by what it is not.  Transformational change is not transitional change.  Transitional change aims to restore certainty in the set of existing ideas about the economy.  To make minor tactical changes to preserve the status quo.  It does not address the failures of deregulation, free trade, the shift of taxation onto those who can least afford it, and the evisceration of emergency management.  Transformational change uses these failings to argue for fundamental change, for the creation of new ideas that alter our understanding of the way the world works.  Like taxes are the price of civilization, the regulation of the market is neccesary to prevent people from being killed or injured by companies trying to make a quick buck, and that the government exists to ensure the common welfare.  

Transitional change can occur at any time.  Transformational change can only occur when the existing set of ideas that create order and stability no longer work.  In this President Bush's greatest failure will not be Iraq, but rather Katrina.  Americans are accustomed to seeing soldiers die in foreign lands.  They don't like it, but it's expected.  The utter horror, shame, and anger of watching American citizens made refugees in our own country popped the bubble.  And Bush went down with New Orleans.  I was working in a medical call center at the time.  There was something surreal about sending out medical supply packages to tent cities with long weird delivery instructions.  I have never felt more ashamed of my government than I did at that time.  We failed them.  It was a shame on all of us.

America isn't 300 million personal islands where the costs and benefits can be divided up like pieces of cake.  It's one big country.  We're all connected.  If we failed those folks in New Orleans, we failed ourselves.  Injustice anywhere. But it doesn't have to be this way.  What infuriates me about so much of the debate on 2008 here on MyDD and in the media, is the failure to recognize this time for what it is.  A limited period in which a strong leader can bring transformational change.  A time for an FDR, a social democrat, not an Al Smith, a status quo politican banking on the novelty of being a "first."

I think that a recent piece in The Nation said it better than I can.  There is a limited opportunity for change.  Those who argue for moderation and bipartisanship betray the chance change we have in our time.  Rubinomics is transitional change, a marginal shift to ensure that the basic premises of the neo-liberal economic ideas underlying so much failed economic policy are not put to the knife.

Rubinomics is not only bad economics but also bad politics. First, by arguing that the problem is a shortage of savings, Rubinomics promotes a conservative tax agenda privileging saving and profits, which primarily benefits the rich. Second, by placing budget deficits at the center of the saving problem, it sets government up as a problem and makes a case for shrinking it. Furthermore, by promising to lock Democrats into a path of fiscal austerity, it exposes future Democratic Administrations to the charge of "flip-flopping." This is because fiscal stimulus will inevitably be needed when the current unbalanced boom ends.

The greatest tragedy of all concerns the potentially disastrous consequences for Social Security and Medicare. These programs are more vital than ever, given America's aging population and retirement wealth inequality. Yet Rubinomics establishes the premise for dismantling them. By claiming the budget must be balanced to increase saving, it sets up a political deal whereby Republicans suspend their unjustifiable tax cuts in return for Democrats putting Social Security and Medicare on the table. This would be the ultimate conservative triumph, the evisceration of the crown jewels of FDR's New Deal and Johnson's Great Society.

The cruel irony is that Democrats would be the agent of this destruction at the very moment when history is proffering the opportunity for a great reversal of market fundamentalism. At a time of extraordinary productivity growth, due to the maturation of the Internet and other technologies, Rubinomics establishes the premise that America cannot afford these great programs. Most bitter of all, once institutions like Social Security are dismantled, they are hard to resurrect, whereas tax cuts can easily be restored. This means that dealing Social Security benefit cuts in return for a repeal of the Bush tax cuts is both unjustified and a political trap--and Hank Paulson knows it.

Only one of the presidential hopefuls recognizes the potential of 2008 and is arguing for transformational change. Only John Edwards has had the courage to say that he will raise taxes of that's what it take to get Americans health insurance, and that working people are prioritized over the pet projects of policy wonks.  We have a choice in 2008, and I don't think it's a hard one to make.

Ask yourself which politician you trust more.

On the one side, a president who campaigned on a balanced-budget pledge, then dug the country hundreds of billions of dollars deeper into debt with huge tax cuts and an unpaid-for war, and now promises a balanced budget four years after he leaves office.

On the other side, a former senator who says that while he wants to contain the deficit, he has higher priorities than a perfectly balanced budget, specifically universal health insurance coverage and substantial investments in alternative energy.

That is the choice offered by George W. Bush and John Edwards, the North Carolina Democrat whose left-of-center presidential candidacy will have the salutary effect of challenging Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton to respond with specifics of their own.

I'm going to end with some inspiration from Marshall Mathers.  We only got one shot, one opportunity.

Tags: John Edwards, Transformational change (all tags)

Comments

52 Comments

Re: What is Transformational Change?

I'm going to bed, so if I don't respond to you, that's why.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-05-07 11:20PM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

if you trust any politician, you're a fool. not that some are not better than others, but from the viewpoint of a wildebeest, good and bad hyenas are much the same.

there is a direct democracy initiative, mike gravel of alaska seems to be the headline name, get behind it and eventually america can be a democracy. then you won't have to guess which master will do least harm, cuz you'll be your own master.

by al loomis 2007-05-08 01:27AM | 0 recs
Politicians and Lobbyists Control Initiatives, Too

It's a wonderful sentiment.  But unfortunately, nearly 100 years of experience show that initiatives only rarely work as advertised, and usually work much worse.

The story of how this has happened is fully chronicled in the book, Democratic Delusions: The Initiative Process in America.  Pulishers Weekly said:

Is the ballot initiative the truest form of democracy, as its supporters claim? No, according to political scientist Ellis (Founding the American Presidency) in this devastating analysis of how the initiative game is played. Only rarely and accidentally, he contends, is the public interest served by the initiative process. In the 1990s, for instance, initiative activists in Oregon, Washington and Colorado gained tremendous visibility and power without any accountability to "the people" they claimed to represent. On one hand, such initiatives are still political, with money and well-organized special interests enjoying powerful advantages; on the other hand, "the people" themselves usually have conflicting interests that legislatures try to balance, but initiatives can ignore. The ballot initiative's first, Populist era American backers saw it as a panacea for confronting entrenched corporate power. Progressive era backers 100 years ago saw it more modestly, as a "gun behind the door," seldom used but always handy to force legislative action. Both groups were misguided, however, says Ellis. Most Progressive reforms passed without the initiative, while at other times, initiatives clogged the ballot (in Oregon in 1912 there were 28 initiatives). Indeed, Ellis shows, the initiative can be counterproductive: the vote for women was significantly delayed by it, he argues politicians were far more supportive of woman suffrage than were voters. Historically revealing, and distressingly up-to-date (he includes examples from the 2000 elections), Ellis masterfully uses vivid cases to illustrate broad underlying problems. This is a book to crystallize simmering discontent.

There are ways to make the process work, Ellis notes: the Swiss had (and still have) a much better system, which, ironically, works primarily by using the initiative to prod the legislature to act.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-05-08 06:13AM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

I can tell that you put a lot of thought into your piece, which is why I recommended it.  

I have a couple of points of disagreements, and they also make up some of the chief reasons I decided not to back Edwards for the primaries:

Quoting:
"On the other side, a former senator who says that while he wants to contain the deficit, he has higher priorities than a perfectly balanced budget, specifically universal health insurance coverage and substantial investments in alternative energy."

I believe a balanced budget in the long-term is essential for the well-being of our country.  We achieved it in the past, why not now?  A candidate who already states that "a perfectly balanced budget" is not a major goal is not going to be my first choice.  Universal health care can be achieved while still striving to balance the budget.  Our health care system is extremely expensive as it is, calculated per capita.  We top the world with our health care cost.  Are we saying that the new system will be even more costly than the boondoggle we already have?    

We will be rolling back the tax breaks given out to the rich by Bush and the GOP to Clinton-levels.  The cost of the war will go away (for the most part.)  We need to get back to a balanced budget while achieving all we strive for.  The worst we could do with our newly gained majorities would be to "spend like drunken sailors," even if it is for "good," "awesome" and "worthwhile" programs.  If we show the country that we can be better stewards with their money than the free-spending GOP was it will cement our majority status for years to come.  Clinton achieved a balanced budget in his last four years.  If we get back to a balanced budget again, one of the biggest detriments to voting for Democrats (the meme that liberals are big spenders) will be debunked for good.   We can't waste this historic opportunity.

The other issue I have is with the health plan itself.  We have 40 Million people without health insurance.  Edwards-care envisions a mandate for everybody to enroll in health-care.  That seems too draconian.  I understand that those who currently are destitute will be given free healthcare, but we already have that with Medicaid.  The 40 Million who will be forced to pay for health care are now not part of it.  They would pay extra, out of their pockets, for this.  To some this comes as a blessing.  They may have been squeezed out of health care completely by ever-rising prices, and perhaps this system could help them with lower cost, so they may be more than willing to pay in to have health insurance again.  But why make it mandatory and criminalize non-compliance?   Many opt out of the health care system and go for a "Pay as you go" approach because they are squeezed financially, but nominally don't qualify for assistance.  They would be asked to pony up a bundle when they already are stretched virtually to the breaking point.  Are we going to tell that person or family (on paper they make too much money to qualify for government assistance) to forego and cancel some of the "illusions of middle class living" they allow themselves (i.e. dance class for their daughter, a family vacation once a year) or else face financial penalties, even jail?  

I find that part of the health care proposal draconian and unreasonable and can't support it for that reason.  

I am glad we are getting to a point where a better health care system may become reality in the near future, and Edwards' health care proposal can be instrumental in keeping this issue at the forefront and bring about good discussion and an eventual solution, but his own proposal is unworkable.  As a larger point, we should not "raise taxes" on everybody to pay for programs.  Indeed, the middle-class and lower-middle class has been shortchanged and deserves a tax break for a change.  Roll back the tax breaks the rich have been getting for the last 6 years and ask them to pony up a little extra.

We need to be careful how we deal with the largest demographic, the middle class.  Asking them to dig deep into their pockets to pay for poverty programs, health care programs and energy programs would seriously backfire and drive many of them right back into the arms of the GOP.  Poverty relief is a laudable project, but those in abject poverty already receive government assistance in the form of housing, food stamps, free health care, etc.  We can only do so much to improve on that part, it is, to be honest, decent in the amount of help that is given out to those less fortunate.    

In essence we CAN'T under any circumstances RAISE TAXES on the middle class, and we CAN'T place draconian mandates on the middle class when it comes to any programs, be they health care or energy.  We HAVE to take this historic opportunity and show the vast middle class that we value their money (and believe that their money should be budgeted wisely as if it were their own household budget) and we HAVE to show them that we understand that they were squeezed the most by the disaster of the last 6 years that called itself the Bush/Cheney administration with its accomplices in the GOP.  

by georgep 2007-05-08 04:41AM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

I believe a balanced budget in the long-term is essential for the well-being of our country.  We achieved it in the past, why not now?

The problem with this is that it represents a rejection of the Keynesian economic policies that made the post war boom possible, and it implies as a consequence that government isn't worth. This is a huge part of the problem.

The nature of modern life is such that the libertarian dream of small organizations with no coercive power over individuals is precisely that.  A dream with no basis in reality.  The question is not whether individuals will be confronted by large organizations in society that limit their choices.  The question is whether those organizations will exist in the public or private sector, and whether or not they will be subject to democratic control.

Secondly, it's a question of priorities and sustainability.  The Clinton years represent a net loss to America.  The truth of the matter is that the economic boom of the late 1990's came because of nothing that the Clinton administration did.  It came because of much earlier government investment, the great productivity gains of the 1990's came as a result of structural changes in the US economy.  The origin of the internet lies in the Defense Department based ARPAnet, and more generally ocmputers arose as a result of intese war research on ENIAC and the rest.  Without government investment in basic science, without the NASA moonlaunch program and all that research in the DoD we would never have had most of the new technologies that made the 1990s possible.

This only occurred because the government was willing to make investments, even if if meant raising taxes or borrowing money. Government is good, if it is subject to democratic control, and its efforts are directed towards the common welfare.  Since the 1970's conservative thinktanks have attacked the idea that the government can do any good.  This is the reason that Katrina happened, the longer that this is sustained, the more Katrinas there will be.  And the prospects for long term economic growth will grow bleaker, as the natural tendency of private sector rent seeking creates situation in which the privitization of common scientific knowledge is used by companies to maintain their advantage.  Why develop a vaccine for AIDS that you can sell only once, when you can make much more money selling sick people pills again and again.  This is what happens when you allow money to become the priority, people suffer and die so that some can make a quick buck.

Are we going to tell that person or family (on paper they make too much money to qualify for government assistance) to forego and cancel some of the "illusions of middle class living" they allow themselves (i.e. dance class for their daughter, a family vacation once a year) or else face financial penalties, even jail?  

I find that part of the health care proposal draconian and unreasonable and can't support it for that reason.  

I am glad we are getting to a point where a better health care system may become reality in the near future, and Edwards' health care proposal can be instrumental in keeping this issue at the forefront and bring about good discussion and an eventual solution, but his own proposal is unworkable.  As a larger point, we should not "raise taxes" on everybody to pay for programs.  Indeed, the middle-class and lower-middle class has been shortchanged and deserves a tax break for a change.  Roll back the tax breaks the rich have been getting for the last 6 years and ask them to pony up a little extra.

The cornerstone of the Edwards health care plan is shared responsibility.  At no point does he say that he will immediately mandate health care coverage. What he does say is this.

Once insurance is affordable, everyone will be expected to take responsibility for themselves and their families by obtaining health coverage. Some Americans will obtain coverage from public programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP and others will get coverage through their jobs. Other families can buy insurance through the regional Health Markets.
Special exemptions will be available in cases of extreme financial hardship or religious beliefs.

Central to the Edward's plan is the establishment of public plan that would based on Medicare, which all familes would have the option of buying into.  Companies would be required to provide health insurance to their employees, and only a very limited number of individuals would be involved in this system.  What is different is that instead of being forced to rely on individual plans where monthly premiums run in the hundreds of dollars (I've carried private coverage before, I may be forced to again.  26, male, nonsmoker $176/month, that's almost a fifth my current income.)they will have the option of purchasing much cheaper pooled coverage.  One option will be a public plan that will undoubtedly be the already mentioned public plan.  It's national health care achieved through demonstrating the failure of private companies to provide affordable coverage.

There's a second important reason why the immediate imposition of universal healthcare instead of consensus based approach as offered by Edwards is bad.  This plan doesn't ask union workers who've foregone wages in exchange for health coverage to forfeit the fruit of their labor, while the company walks away with their money.  Instead, this will allow for gradual transition where reduced healthcare cost for companies translate into higher wages for workers as companies are forced to offer wage hikes in exchange for transititioning their workers to the cheaper, public system.  This is one of the key reasons that the Edward's plan is the only workable plan.  Other plans will balance the budget at the expense of working people who've foregone wages to get health coverage.  Edwards plan doesn't ask them to pay for the market's failure.

In essence we CAN'T under any circumstances RAISE TAXES on the middle class, and we CAN'T place draconian mandates on the middle class when it comes to any programs, be they health care or energy.  We HAVE to take this historic opportunity and show the vast middle class that we value their money (and believe that their money should be budgeted wisely as if it were their own household budget) and we HAVE to show them that we understand that they were squeezed the most by the disaster of the last 6 years that called itself the Bush/Cheney administration with its accomplices in the GOP.

The first thing that Edwards is going to do is to repeal the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans.  As the Bible says, to whom much is given much is expected.  Most Republicans appear not have read the Gospel of Luke, nor the sermon on the Temple Mount. They practice a cherry picking brand of Christianity, and values Mammon above our fellow man.

Secondly, taxes are the price of civilization.  If individuals can't understand that they have the respsonsibility to pay their fair share, they need to either go to prison or leave the United States never to return.  If the costs of modern society are not distributed equitably by a democratically accountable government, they will be placed as a burden on working people by the private sector.  This is what has happened with healthcare, and the syndrome is infecting the rest of the economy.  Want safe food?  Better be willing to pay extra for organic, so that the wealthy will be healthy, while the poor and common working man will be left poisoned by the pursuit of profit.

The historic oppotunity here isn't to reinforce the status quo, it's to restore social democracy in this country.  Most Americans look back fondly on the economic security of the post war social contract, with the government and strong labor unions acting as a counterbalance to corporations.  The culture war benefits only the wealthy, by detracting attention from the class war being waged against working people. We need to attack the economic ideas of the Republicans that have allowed them to dismantle the post war social contract.  And if a candidate doesn't have the courage to stand with working men and women, they don't deserve the nomination of the Democratic party to run for President.

The working class didn't leave the Democratic party, the Democratic party left the working class.  When candidates take the time to speak to the challenges that working people face, they win the working class.  This is what happened in 2006.  It wasn't about Iraq, it was about Katrina, free trade, and economic insecurity. These candidates argued for tranformational change, not transitional change to maintain the status quo.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-05-08 06:24AM | 0 recs
Keynes & The Balanced Budget Illusion

It's important to remember that Keynes was for balanced budgets, too--over the course of the business cycle.  This is a fundamental point that can't be emphasized enough.  You spend government money when the economy needs it most, and then cut back borrowing when the private sector needs investment funds most. (Duh!)  It's common sense in both phases of the business cycle, as well as common sense for the entire business cycle.

Actually, one need not even go that far.  So long as your debt burden doesn't grow as a percentage of the budget, you're basically fine, provided that share isn't too big in the first place.  But the underlying logic remains: more government spending when private spending shrinks, less government spending when private spending expands.

And, of course, it's not an either/or thing between Keynsian fiscal policy and using monetary policy as well--the latter being the Milton Friedman dogma that even Friedman eventually abandoned, but that brain-dead folks at the DLC still embrace like it was holy.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-05-08 06:48AM | 0 recs
To put it even more simply ...

... as long the average deficit over the course of the business cycle is less than the average rate of growth, the debt burden will be shrinking.

OK, putting it more simply over ... back to regularly scheduled academic windbaggery:

So shifting spending from money going overseas to blow stuff up, to money being spent in the US to lay the foundations for a New Energy Economy, will result in a smaller debt burden over both the short and medium term, because it will support stronger economic growth in both the short and medium term.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-08 09:08AM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.  If we don't strive to balance the budget and we place an extra undue burden on the middle-class via raised taxes, because that is "the price for having programs and civilization," despite the fact that the vast middle-class is already squeezed to the snapping-point, then we send them right back into the arms of the GOP.  It would be like cutting our noses to spite our face.  Nobody that I am aware of running for the Democratic nomination is advocating maintaining the status quo.  We should be able to achieve balanced budgets by placing much more of the burden on the wealthiest Americans, as it is done in other industrialized nations, and keep our hands off the middle-class and lower-middle-class incomes, at least until they are less squeezed.  

by georgep 2007-05-08 07:32AM | 0 recs
But who is proposing that?

Specifically (since "middle class" is such a fuzzy term), who in the Democratic Field is proposing to increase the burden of taxation on people in the middle three quintiles in order to reduce the tax burden on people in the top quintile?

by BruceMcF 2007-05-08 09:10AM | 0 recs
Re: But who is proposing that?

"who in the Democratic Field is proposing to increase the burden of taxation on people in the middle three quintiles in order to reduce the tax burden on people in the top quintile"

I never stated that someone is proposing the burden of taxation on people in the middle in order to reduce the tax burden on people in the top quintile.  

 I am against raising taxes on the middle class (say, a family of four earning $50,000 or $60,000 a year) to pay for new programs while also mandating (and criminalizing non-compliance) joining a government health care program, all the while telling that family that while we Democrats talked a good game about spending when we were out of power, we now have concluded that budget balance is not all that important.  

You basically accomplish three strikes simultaneously against that voter staying in the Democratic fold and throw them right back into the arms of the next GOPer who promises budget balance, leaner government, less taxes.   We can achieve more and build a lasting majority by incrementally implementing changes rather than the shock-sledgehammer approach.    

by georgep 2007-05-08 09:37AM | 0 recs
OK, then, who is proposing *that*?

I am against raising taxes on the middle class (say, a family of four earning $50,000 or $60,000 a year) to pay for new programs while also mandating (and criminalizing non-compliance) joining a government health care program

Nobody among the top tier is proposing that, and for the candidate proposing Medicare for All, it would be grossly misleading to skip over the fact that the net impact on a middle-class family that is presently insured is to save more on premiums and out of pocket expenses than they are charged in taxes.

Take, for example, Edward's plan ... everyone buying from a Health Market would have a choice between a government or privately insured plan, the tax credit is set to phase out at $100k, and the tax revenues come from rolling back Bush tax cuts on incomes over $200,000. So it doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to that description.

And neither Obama nor Hillary actually have a plan, so intrinsically neither of them can be proposing anything of the sort.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-08 11:24AM | 0 recs
perspective

You write

the vast middle-class is already squeezed to the snapping-point

But also

those in abject poverty already receive government assistance in the form of housing, food stamps, free health care, etc.  We can only do so much to improve on that part, it is, to be honest, decent in the amount of help that is given out to those less fortunate

Taxation is squeezing the middle class to the "snapping point", while the underclass is receiving a "decent amount" of assistance from our government.

This view of government makes me assume you are  probably a member of the middle class and not the underclass.  Bad assumption?
 

by Rob in Vermont 2007-05-09 04:53AM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

You miss some really important facts about Keynesian economics.  It is built around running govt deficits when the economy needs money pumped into it, not all the time.  Also, Keynesian economics worked well in the post-WW II era because we had a low overall national debt.  It took 200 years for the US to build $1 trillion in debt and only 27 for us to increase it 8 times to $8 trillion.

Balanced budgets are not a holy grail but I would submit you cannot have stable government programs to help people without either a balanced budget or a near balanced budget.  Without a solid fiscal base you will be in a boom/bust cycle where you expand and cut programs with regularity depending on govt revenues.  This is actually plays into the right wing memme about govt being ineffective not improves it.  

Also, I think you miss an extremely important point about Clinton's economic policies.  His deficit reduction bill brought the interest rates on mortgages down substantially from 8.31% in Nov 1992 to 6.83% in the fall of 1993.  Considering that housing is the biggest item most people spend money on and each percentage point on a $100K mortgage is worth about $100/month that ended up putting real money in people's pockets.  That's worth a lot more than a tax cut to most people.

by John Mills 2007-05-08 08:06AM | 0 recs
Uhmmm ... why?

Without a solid fiscal base you will be in a boom/bust cycle where you expand and cut programs with regularity depending on govt revenues.

Why is, say, deficits averaging 2% of GDP against economic growth averaging 3% of GDP automatically excluded from "a solid fiscal base"? It would reduce the ratio of national debt to GDP by, on average, 1% a year.

Indeed, the rapid increase of taxes and reduction in government spending that would be required to quickly move the country toward quick balanced budgets would slam the brakes on the economy and those higher taxes would be coming out of a smaller total GDP, while automatic stabilizer spending would increase total non-discretionary spending, so its highly likely that it would fail to actually bring the deficit down as rapidly as projected.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-08 09:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Uhmmm ... why?

Wow.  I think I heard a similar argument from Repubs in 1993 on the floor of the House in their opposition to Clinton's attempts to get our fiscal house in order.  If memory serves me correctly the 1993 Clinton budget bill actually helped the economy, not hurt it.

I am not saying you have to do it in a draconian manner, but you can't borrow like we have forever.  If you want to expand govt programs and provide universal health insurance, you need a strong fiscal foundation to do it.  In my opinion, it will be unsustainable without that.
 

by John Mills 2007-05-08 10:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Uhmmm ... why?

Maybe it wasn't fair to equate this with the Repub arguments in 1993 but fiscal responsibility and economic growth do not have to be mutually exclusive.  It is a false argument.  You can do both if done correctly.

by John Mills 2007-05-08 11:20AM | 0 recs
My point is that the simple minded ...

... equation of fiscal responsibility with balanced budgets can lead us to shackle ourselves when it is time to engage in public works that will have substantial and long lasting benefits.

Very few successful business are run that way. If a firm is going to acquire productive equipment with a conservative lifespan of 20 years, then we would expect it to be financed by a mix of equity and debt. That is what the market expects a "fiscally responsible" corporation to do.

The question is, what do you obtain as a consequence of your debt.

Bush's debt is primarily to run a war while providing tax cuts to the very wealthy. So a substantial amount of the debt has gone to running up the prices of existing financial assets in secondary financial markets, while a substantial amount, probably the majority, is in spending on a reckless overseas military adventure, which much of its going straight on top of our current account deficit ... and because of Energy Imports, we would have a current account blowout even without that added on top.

But if spending is restructured, and we shift the composition of spending away from supporting asset price bubbles and aggravating an already severe current account deficit, and the new spending replacing that is supporting the competitiveness of US firms, both import-competing and export-producing, that in itself makes it more fiscally responsible.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-09 06:35AM | 0 recs
Which Is Why Dems Swept Into Supermajority Power

Also, I think you miss an extremely important point about Clinton's economic policies.  His deficit reduction bill brought the interest rates on mortgages down substantially from 8.31% in Nov 1992 to 6.83% in the fall of 1993.  Considering that housing is the biggest item most people spend money on and each percentage point on a $100K mortgage is worth about $100/month that ended up putting real money in people's pockets.  That's worth a lot more than a tax cut to most people.
in 1994.

Oh, wait.  They didn't.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-05-08 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Which Is Why Dems Swept Into Supermajority

Well Paul, that had to do with a lot of the other missteps including the health reform and crime bill debacles not to mention the inability to explain the advantages of the Clinton budget bill.

That doesn't take away from the fact that a lot of people were able to lower their housing costs due to the drop in mortgage rates and that helped the economy.

by John Mills 2007-05-08 10:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Which Is Why Dems Swept Into Supermajority

Did mortgage rates drop by 2% based on a bill that had just been passed? I'm not saying it didn't happen, but that's pretty incredible.

by clarkent 2007-05-08 10:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Which Is Why Dems Swept Into Supermajority

It had a lot to do with it b/c fed bond interest rates were high due to concerns about federal borrowing.  Once the fed govt showed it was serious about getting its house in order, the interest rates for 30 yr treasury bills dropped and since mortgage rates are tied to them they in turn dropped.

by John Mills 2007-05-08 10:37AM | 0 recs
Fiscal Policy and the 1990s Boom

This isn't true -- long-term rates hardly budged during the 1990s. The real 30-year treasury bond rate was 4.5%-4.7% in 1989-91, spiked to 5.4% in '92, down to 4.3% in '93, spiked again to 5.4% in '94 (well after the Clinton tax hikes), then back down to 4.6% in '95 where it stayed until 2000.

So long-term rates, with the exception of a couple of blips, were not particularly high during the late '80s/early 90s; in fact they were much lower than they had been from 1982 to 1988, but the break comes in '88-'89, when the real 30-year T-bond rate dropped from 5.8% to 4.6%, not '93-'94.

Not only that, but even economists sympathetic to the Clinton approach have trouble finding much correlation between them and the '90s economic boom:

. . . did the policy mix [tight government budgets and (relatively) easy monetary policy] really drive the investment boom of the 1990s? Our two macroeconometric models are doubtful . . . lower interest rates . . . also boost stock market values -- which in turn spur consumption (via the wealth effect) rather than investment. . . . The main impetus to investment, it appears, came from the surge in productivity.

And what's more, you may not even be able to chalk up all of the 1990s deficit reduction to Clinton's fiscal policy at all:

. . . Barry Bosworth has shown that the extent of deficit reduction/surplus expansion cannot be attributed to legislative actions. Clinton & the Dems deserve credit for an important change of direction in the deficit trend, but not the extent of subsequent progress.

Oh, and 1994? It was the economy, stupid:

The 1994 election was disastrous for the Democrats. But their troubles were not uniform across all groups in the population. Compare 1992 and 1994 levels of Democratic support by education. Democratic support dropped 10 points among high school dropouts, 11 among high school graduates, and 12 among those with some college -- all groups hit by serious long-term wage decline. . . .

. . . Why would voters with declining living standards direct anger at the Democrats, supposedly the "party of the common man," rather than Republicans, with their historic commitment to the interests of the wealthiest Americans?

The answer reflects an asymmetry between the political effects of and short- and long-term economic changes. Short-term recession simply hurts the incumbent party -- the party on whose watch the decline takes place (vice versa for short-term growth). But the effects of such longer-term changes as falling living standards depend on voter beliefs about the roots of those changes. The Democrats are being hurt by declining living standards because, in or out of office, they get the blame in the standard public story about long-term economic shifts.

According to that story, long-term decline results from a combination of wasteful government spending (especially on the poor, minorities, and immigrants, who are themselves seen as causes of declining living standards), high taxes, inefficient and obtrusive regulation, selfish behavior by interest groups, and excessive social tolerance. All of this is readily blamed on the Democrats -- the party that has promoted activist government, represented poor people, minorities, and all manner of interest group, and endorsed social liberalism. . . .

This fits right in with the whole theme of this diary.

by tgeraghty 2007-05-08 05:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Which Is Why Dems Swept Into Supermajority

And here I thought it was NAFTA.

Seeing as 1994 saw Perot voters shift into the R column, and I think that you'll find that it's the same demographic that shifted back to Democrats in 2008.  When candidates talk about the issues that affect working people and not the donor class, they win.  Jon Tester, Jim Webb, Sherrod Brown, look at their platforms.

I'm all for either Jim Webb or Sherrod Brown as the VP if Edward wins the primary.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-05-08 11:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Which Is Why Dems Swept Into Supermajority

Just out of curiosity, please tell me which Congressional Dems lost in 1994 because of NAFTA?  I can't think of one but I can find you a couple of dozen who lost b/c of the 1993 budget bill, crime bill and health reform.

I get you don't like NAFTA - neither do I but having lived 1994 as a Congressional staffer and then on a campaign I can tell you it was a secondary campaign issue at best.  The Rs didn't use it b/c they, for the most part, supported it.  

by John Mills 2007-05-08 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Which Is Why Dems Swept Into Supermajority

But it takes away a reason to support Democrats.

by jallen 2007-05-08 05:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Which Is Why Dems Swept Into Supermajority

Oh yeah, and we lost Dick Shelby.

by jallen 2007-05-08 06:59PM | 0 recs
Re: Which Is Why Dems Swept Into Supermajority

I beg to differ, one of the key groups to desert the Democratic party in 1994 was Perot voters.  Giant sucking sound....

What is true of the electorate as a whole is also true of the 1992 Perot voters, a key swing group. Adjusted to reflect voting patterns in the Census data, their ranks are even more dominated by noncollege-educated voters. And they moved massively against the Democrats, down 17 points from 1992 to just 32 percent support. If repeated in 1996, this astonishingly low level of support will doom Clinton's re-election bid. Indeed, recent polls show 1992 Perot voters breaking two to one against Clinton in trial heats for 1996.

And what does this all have to do with the economy? Approximately everything. As indicated in table 1, it is precisely noncollege-educated Americans, in particular noncollege-educated men, who have suffered the largest wage declines over the last two decades. Furthermore, this miserable experience of wage (and income) decline continued apace in the first two years of the Clinton administration, providing little relief to voters who have seen their living standards erode over time. (See Lawrence Mishel, "Rising Tides, Sinking Wages," ) Finally, analysis of wage data cross-linked to the VNS data indicates that the Perot voters who voted Republican in 1994 were the ones under the most economic stress, with estimated post-1979 wage losses more than double those of Perot voters who voted Democratic.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-05-08 06:47PM | 0 recs
Isn't the drunken sailors a straw man?

The worst we could do with our newly gained majorities would be to "spend like drunken sailors

What Edwards says is that he will not increase the deficit, but will not put eliminating the deficit as a higher priority than Energy Independence, Universal Health Care, etc.

That's not spending like a drunken sailor.

The question should be whether the policies will serve national needs.

And over and above that, the premise of the budget slashers is that the reduction in the deficit will provide more service to the economy than any program we could pursue.

Which flies in the face of history. This country has, in its history, been far more successful at growing the economy to reduce a debt burden than slamming on the brakes in an effort to rapidly pay off a debt burden. The last time we tried the "slam on the brakes" approach to the national debt burden was in the middle of the Great Depression, and that policy led to a fresh outbreak of unemployment.

by BruceMcF 2007-05-08 09:04AM | 0 recs
A straw man and a rightwing frame

How come Republicans never spend like a drunken sailor?  Never throw money at a problem?  Are the party of fiscal conservatism?  And yet run up more deficits in the time it takes to say "Hello!" than all the Democratic Presidents of all time?

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-05-08 10:11AM | 0 recs
Re: A straw man and a rightwing frame

You obviously did not read careful enough, Paul.

Here is my quote:

The worst we could do with our newly gained majorities would be to "spend like drunken sailors," even if it is for "good," "awesome" and "worthwhile" programs.  If we show the country that we can be better stewards with their money than the free-spending GOP was it will cement our majority status for years to come.  Clinton achieved a balanced budget in his last four years.  If we get back to a balanced budget again, one of the biggest detriments to voting for Democrats (the meme that liberals are big spenders) will be debunked for good.   We can't waste this historic opportunity.

I deliberately placed the "spend like a drunken sailor" bit in quotes, because that is the meme the right-wing has used against our policies.  It is not MY frame, as you erroneously claim.  

I also stated "If we show the country that we can be better stewards with their money than the free-spending GOP was it will cement our majority status for years to come."

That effectively renders your entire comment moot.  I am stating that indeed it is now the GOP that has become known as the free-spenders, the money wasters, the "drunken sailors."   We have one of those rare opportunities in history to show that we can be fiscally responsible (and creat a stark contrast to the GOP-sailors) while still creating new programs, redistribute wealth, give tax breaks to the right people, etc.  

by georgep 2007-05-09 07:04AM | 0 recs
I Wasn't Attacking You

Sorry.

It was a comment about the political discourse, not you.  I should have made this clear. I was sloppy in writing, not reading.  

Again, sorry.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-05-10 11:23AM | 0 recs
Re: A straw man

You obviously did not read careful enough, Paul.

Here is my quote:

The worst we could do with our newly gained majorities would be to "spend like drunken sailors," even if it is for "good," "awesome" and "worthwhile" programs.  If we show the country that we can be better stewards with their money than the free-spending GOP was it will cement our majority status for years to come.  Clinton achieved a balanced budget in his last four years.  If we get back to a balanced budget again, one of the biggest detriments to voting for Democrats (the meme that liberals are big spenders) will be debunked for good.   We can't waste this historic opportunity.

I deliberately placed the "spend like a drunken sailor" bit in quotes, because that is the meme the right-wing has used against our policies.  It is not MY frame, as you erroneously claim.  

I also stated "If we show the country that we can be better stewards with their money than the free-spending GOP was it will cement our majority status for years to come."

That effectively renders your entire comment moot.  I am stating that indeed it is now the GOP that has become known as the free-spenders, the money wasters, the "drunken sailors."   We have one of those rare opportunities in history to show that we can be fiscally responsible (and creat a stark contrast to the GOP-sailors) while still creating new programs, redistribute wealth, give tax breaks to the right people, etc.  

by georgep 2007-05-09 07:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Isn't the drunken sailors a straw man?

No one is talking about "slamming on the brakes" but you need to also get the countries fiscal house in order.  You can't do that overnight but you need a plan to get the country's budget in balance over a multiple year plan and you can't grow your way out of it alone.  It is going to require higher taxes, fiscal restraint such as pay as you go rules and economic growth to achieve.  It will be a multi-pahsed attack.

Ignoring it isn't a reality and you can't expand programs by borrowing forever.  It is not sustaninable, especially when you already owe $8 trillion.  At some point you have to pay the money back.

What makes me mad is the Dems always get stuck cleaning up the Repubs mess.  First Reagan and now Bush II.

by John Mills 2007-05-08 10:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Isn't the drunken sailors a straw man?

What makes me mad is the Dems always get stuck cleaning up the Repubs mess.  First Reagan and now Bush II.

Bingo! Surpluses are an excuse for Republican tax cuts. Hell, the wind blowing in from the east is an excuse for a Republican to cut taxes on the wealthiest.

by clarkent 2007-05-08 11:30AM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

While I don't agree it is Edwards that would make this change or then again anyone in this race. This is a great article. Well written. I just think we'd need a progressive populist (like Edwards has been for two years) that has been fighting the fight for years and years, or at least while he was in elected office. Someone like Paul Wellstone. Or I don't know.

And besides they can't do it without a progressive populist congress. I'm just trying to get Obama or Edwards elected and then get a mega-majority 'cuz we have so many DINO's

by Populista 2007-05-08 06:21AM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

John Edwards is the populist in this race.  The man may have left Robbins, but I don't think that Robbins ever left him.  

Barack Obama is not a transformational candidate.  Obama was the keynote speaker at the launch of the Hamilton Project.  This is the effort launched by Robert Rubin and his friends on Wall Street to blunt the influence of populists in the party.  Rubin's son Jaime is one of Obama's key fundraisers, and the Hamilton Project has been a huge influence on Obama's policy platform.  This is a candidate committed to the status quo.

Where do you think all his money came from?

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-05-08 06:44AM | 0 recs
FRONTPAGE THIS, MATT! Or CHIS! Or...

Although you could have gotten to the point faster (sorry, I'm an editor, just can't help myself), the point you're making is a terribly crucial one: that transformational change is not about individual citizens feeling transformed, it's about actually transforming the political system.

I would say, "Well, duh!" but this basic point has repeatedly and continuously evaded Obama supporters--and, perhaps more fundamentally, the large majority of folks who have mistaken cause and effect in the Dean primary campaign of 2003/2004.  (It was individually transformative because it was about transforming the system.)

I'm still a bit ambivalent about Edwards' ability to fill that role.  But, then again, FDR was deeply wedded to some fairly conventional notions--such as the primary importance of balancing the budget--when he came into office.  (It wasn't until his premature cut-backs in deficit spending lead to the 1937/38 recession that he finally gave up that illusion.) So I suppose Edwards will do just fine--so long as folks realize that the leader alone is not what does the trick.  A large part of what we need to do is to transform ourselves out of the isolated individualistic mode, out of which a deluded hero-worship view of political leadership quite naturally grows.

The point about limited opportunity is a very important one.  I'm really afraid that folks will severely under-estimate the opportunity in front of us.  Of course, the DC punditocracy and the DLC consultancy will underestimate the opportunity--they hate that it exists.  I'm worried that folks in blogosphere will underestimate it.  Folks who should be downright starving for it.

So, thanks for a very important diary.  As I say in my subject line, it ought to be frontpaged.

And, yes, I plan to check out the book, too.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-05-08 06:36AM | 0 recs
Re: FRONTPAGE THIS, MATT! Or CHIS! Or...

Thanks.

I wanted to break it down into something very clear, I think I succeeded.  

This diaries been on my mind for the past month or so, I just wasn't able to get it out.

I think it's vital that we don't underestimate the limited time frame that we are working in.

If you read Blyth's book, check out Blyth's five hypotheses, they're like a playbook for changing the way people think about the economy.  If you're going to read Blyth, I also highly recommend Karl Polanyi's Great Transformation. It makes reading Blyth's book all the more interesting.  

Would you be up for a MyDD political economy reading circle?

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-05-08 06:54AM | 0 recs
I've Read Polanyi + A Reading Circle Sounds Great

But I'm waaaay over-extended as it is.

Still, keep me in mind if you do get something started.  I wouldn't mind listening in.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-05-08 10:00AM | 0 recs
political economy reading circle

. . . . sounds like a great idea . . .

by tgeraghty 2007-05-08 05:12PM | 0 recs
Re: political economy reading circle

If you're interested email me at manfrommiddletown @t lycos d0t com.

I'm up for a book of the month club.

I'd like to do Karl Polanyi's Great Transformation first.  If you'd be willing to co-host and pick up for the next month we could, I'd be very down with starting this up.  I'd say to crosspost to Dkos also.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-05-08 05:32PM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

Have you ever seen the shows "Beast Wars" or "Transformers"?  I would consider the characters in both those shows capable of "Transformational change".  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-05-08 09:39AM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

Edwards is not my candidate and I almost skipped this diary, but I am really glad I didn't.  The has been thoughtful and informative.  Thanks.

by Kingstongirl 2007-05-08 04:25PM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

It should have said the discussion via the comments as well as the diary itself was very interesting and informative.

by Kingstongirl 2007-05-08 04:27PM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

BTW, MfM, I'm preparing for a diary about how, globally, liberalism is a doomed ideology, and it would be wise for us to adopt social democracy as a broad ideology rather than liberalism.

by jallen 2007-05-08 06:06PM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

Have you ever read any of Jerome a Paris's writing at Daily Kos and European Tribune?

Jerome's a very good writer on issues if income ineqaulity, and has written extensively on trans-Atlantic differences.

by ManfromMiddletown 2007-05-08 06:41PM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?
A little, but not a lot.  I'm a fan, but I already spend too much time reading MyDD and on Kos and not enough on my school work.  But I'm much more interested in this stuff than re-reading about how interest groups affect policy for the dozenth time, so sue me.
It'll be a while in the coming, but I'm going to include both domestic politics, with the Republicans war on cultural liberalism, and average Americans' rejection of the neoliberal status quo, with the foreign efforts of other religious fundamentalists wars against cultural liberalism, efforts in Latin America to fight economic liberalism, Green movements, and a little on Europe.  And, of course, all other ideological groups disagree with it's preference for the individual over society.
Liberalism is being attacked on all sides.  Too many perceive it as amoral or immoral, decadent, etc., for it to survive as a dominant imperial ideology.
by jallen 2007-05-08 06:53PM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

Excellent, well-reasoned diary.

by littafi 2007-05-08 07:05PM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

While I agree that it is a mistake to save too much I'd have to say that as far as transformations go both Obama and hillary will transform far more simply by being who they are and elected president.  Promising a willingness to raise taxes or ignore a perfectly balanced budget isn't really new in this country.

Edwards to me isn't a transformational candidate because he isn't advocating universal healthcare.  He is staking himself out as the most progressive candidate with the only healthcare plan and then he proposes a healthcare system that is very incrementalist(apparently because it would be wrong to lift up the whole nation to what union workers have because they put in hard work)

Even though he is staking himself out as a transformational candidate his policies are incrementalist.

by sterra 2007-05-09 03:38AM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?
What does electing a black or female person president get us other than a black or female president?
BTW, having everyone covered=universal health care.
by jallen 2007-05-09 03:45AM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

Not to mention that his UHC plan is pretty bold. I doubt that Obama or Clinton will come up with something other than incrementalist solutions.

by clarkent 2007-05-09 04:05AM | 0 recs
Re: What is Transformational Change?

It is such a small world.

I just took two political and economic history classes with Mark Blyth at Hopkins.  He has a fasinating view of the world and is a great teacher.

by aiko 2007-05-09 04:27AM | 0 recs

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