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April 21, 2008



If Frank is basing his moronic asserrtion on income inequality merely his sophomoric appeals to a phantom pol (newsflash; Obama has no such "plan") he has half a point, the other half of which swamps his little boat. Yes, the rich have gotten richer; THE POOR HAVE GOTTEN RICHER, TOO! Much. It's called "growth" and if this jackass is so enamored of equality he can send me a few Gs.


Gold Hat in Treasure of Sierra Madre: Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges!

Inequality? We don't need no argument about inequality! Because the useful question doesn't revolve around inequality.

Adam Smith is my man for the decade... and perhaps the century... because he wrote, "But there is no country in which the whole annual produce is employed in maintaining the industrious. The idle everywhere consume a great part of it."

The candidates [and the pundits] have spoken at length on every subject but how we should help people become industrious.

Danube of Thought

"Gold Hat" answers to the name of Alfonso Bedoya, and smile when you say that.


Hooray, Alfonso! One of the classics of modern times.


The funny thing is that last line. Because Frank is so caught up in class warfare, he expresses what is at heart a profoundly paleo-conservative thought: Give me back the country I was born in!

Gabriel Sutherland
If it will help restore the land of relative equality I was born in, I'll fly the plane myself.
How many times do we have to debate Thomas Frank? This academic wants FDR politics today and wants to us to pretend like we're already in a Great Depression for the last 25 years.

He's asking us to take the hourglass and just flip it upside down. All the manufacturing jobs come home, the environmental policies magically disappear, unions represent 25% of the workforce, and imported fuel efficient cars are hammered to pieces in the streets.

While the entire country has thought it was moving forward, in Frank's world it was moving backward.

I look forward to the Obama Campaign's appointment of Thomas Frank as a political adviser.


How is mitigating income inequality by itself going to re-create this shining city on the hill that Frank believes we once lived in?

If we confiscate half the wealth of the top 5% of Americans and hand it to the bottom 25%, this redistributionist alchemy will change us in a country with streets and people (their pockets that is) lined with gold?

What type of citizens will they be? Smarter? Wiser? Healthier? More just?

Or simply richer? Frank apparently doesn't care.

To be sure, wealth maldistribution is potentially a concern for political stability. But how one addresses that problem is at least as important as mitigating it.

Means cannot be separated from ends no matter how noble the ends may be.

Economic determinism indeed


Funny things you find when leafing through the internals of Pa primary polls. Suffolk Univ released a poll today that asked if "the President's tax cuts" should be retained. Despite that rather incendiary question ( different phrasing would surely get a more favorable response with Democrats ) and this being restricted to registered Democrats able to vote in the Primary tomorrow, the survey found a plurality favors retaining the tax cuts.

Sound like a bunch of bitter populists to you? What do you think Independents and Republicans might say?


What year was he born?
Was he born before Affirmative Action, before unions like the UAW let black people in? He was born the same year as the March on Selma. Was there perhaps a forced underclass in his glory days of youth?

Was he born before people had medical treatments like MRIs and CAT scans and arthroscopic surgeries that insurance (or other citizens) paid for?

Was he born before China opened itself up for trade, before India was a readily accessible plane ride away?

Bah. This country back argument bothers me.


This is from John Fund's Political Diary so cannot do a link--

"If Hillary Clinton wins big in Pennsylvania it will be because Barack Obama struck out among just those voter groups he characterized as "bitter" and clinging to guns and religion. They are precisely the voters that Hillary Clinton is building a big lead with, according to a Mason-Dixon poll.

Overall, Mrs. Clinton has a 48% to 43% lead before tomorrow's primary, with 8% undecided. When broken down, the results should concern Mr. Obama as he struggles to appeal to salt-of-the-earth voters. He breaks even with beer drinkers, but otherwise trails among those who lean to the blue-collar side of the culture clash. Mrs. Clinton leads among hunters by a 56% to 31% margin, and among gun owners by 53% to 28%. Mr. Obama's efforts to show solidarity with bowlers (which resulted in him accumulating a miserable 37 score) haven't paid off. Denizens of bowling alleys turned thumbs down on him by 54% to 31%.

Overall, the poll found Mr. Obama drawing 33% of the white vote, pulling close to his rival largely on the strength of 83% support among African-Americans. Pennsylvania has become more Democratic of late, but should Mr. Obama be the Democratic nominee, Pennsylvania looks like a state John McCain could put into play in the fall."

Along with Gmax's citing "favors rataing the tax cuts" it should be pretty interesting in PA.


Everybody knows human evolved. They sold our bodies. They force seeing, hearing, pain, strokes and death. So, what is the class problem? It's just what happened to her with Adam.

Bama? Bama?
We don't need no stinking Bama!

Clintons' 100 million dollars from government work.


"...it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world."

But it probably would be a good idea to dump every scrap of paper bearing Thomas Frank's writing into Lake Michigan, just to be safe.


How is Michelle O going to handle income equality? All kinds of bitter people with their God and their guns would be moving in next door.

Patrick R. Sullivan

Greg Mankiw linked to this study of high school graduation rates, which found they peaked in 1968 and have been declining since. Which would seem to have some lessons for guys like Frank and Krugman; you're the ones who broke it.


I saw Thomas Frank present his book a while back on CSPAN. The post production wind down feed was left active and it was interesting to see him puff up and rooster like a spoiled college boy thinking he was off camera among fellow insiders. There was some boast of a big grant to write the book, either from the AFL-CIO or SEIU, or both. Bottom line, the book was written as a contract hit piece for the last presidential election. It's all about the meme with these clowns. Where they can't find enough useful idiots, the invent a useful meme and go fishing for any carp that will bite. Our union dues at work. Or perhaps we should say our union dues at work typically become somebody else's playtime.

Frank is lower than pond scum, and proud of it; sadly typical of politically elite university product one finds these days.

Barney Frank

What year was he born?,/i>


Because Frank is so caught up in class warfare, he expresses what is at heart a profoundly paleo-conservative thought: Give me back the country I was born in!

The progs and the paleos grow ever closer. I foresee the eventual rise of a two headed monster with Pat Buchanan on one shoulder and Kristine van den Heuvel sprouting from the other.

Barney Frank


Sorry about that, folks.


All kinds of bitter people with their God and their guns would be moving in next door.

NOT when you control the only access point to the lot and there is a spite strip specifically to keep the riff raff away. Next door is fallow land ( not hallow ) and is going to stay that way. Bitters need not apply.







Progs + Paleos = Prigs;

No wonder they're so many furtive little furters on the loose.

Perusing the definitions for "prig," it really does encapsulate the matter rather well: e.g., a person who demonstrates an exaggerated conformity or propriety, especially in an irritatingly arrogant or smug manner. A petty thief or pickpocket. A conceited dandy; a fop. One who compulsively haggles or argues over price.

However, the Progs are by far the cheapest of the two, unless the money happens to come from someone else's labors.


I guess that ties into BO's refutation that he's a condescending elitist because he only recently paid off his student loans and he was raised by a single mother. Disregard the arugula.


4.1 million this year from government work.

JM Hanes

"If it will help restore the land of relative equality I was born in, I'll fly the plane myself."

I find myself wondering exactly when and where Franks was born, but not enough to bother googling that info up. I can only assume the Civil Rights Act predates that happy event, which might explain his weakness in the perspective department.

All in all, this is a most bizarre cri de coeur. Franks longs for a return to "relative" equality? What kind of weasel worded passion is that? What exactly constitutes relative equality? And what is this ""middle class republic," of which he speaks? Try that touting that one to Rev. Wright. I gather we have Kansas as a cautionary tale about low class Republicanism, but how do we distinguish a plutocracy from, say, an upper class republic? Frank's Goldilocks zone of relative equality is apparently in there somewhere, but darned if I can locate it on the usual space & time continuum. "I pledge allegiance to the flag, and the middle class republic for which it stands....." Sorry, but this is just not working for me. I'd like to go back to the time when folks seemed to agree on what words meant so that they could make their differences on substance clear.


jmh, I have to say that in the Middle West in the 1950's I believe that there was far less income inequality. I grew up in Milwaukee, but I mentioned this recollection to a friend who grew up in Detroit in that same period and she remembered it that way, too.

JM Hanes


I'm not sure anyone would call the '50's the heyday of (relative!) political equality though, which would run rather counter to Frank's thesis, no? I caved in and googled up his bio which has him born in '65, so we're really talking about 1970's Kansas City -- which leaves me wondering if what he's really remembering is relative homogeneity.

I really don't know the income stats, but over time, the shifts that have struck me most forcibly have more to do with mobility and an increasing segregation by income, which perhaps makes the disparities more obvious. For example, there was a huge migration from the south to places like Detroit, and later a major influx of businesses (as well as retirees) moving to the sunbelt, both of which changed the population mix and the character of affected communities. In what I call the Harvard BSchool effect, interchangeable corporate executives moving from one company to next grew less committed to the companies they managed and the communities they lived in and more inclined to conspicuous consumption and "gated" housing. Population growth and various forms of gentrification have pushed a lot of folks out of what used to be mixed income neighborhoods, a kind of geographical stratification which, IMO, is at the cultural, if not the legal, heart of the Kelo case.

Most of what I've personally perceived is less about a shift from equal to unequal than from less apparent to more obvious. Most of all, however, it seems to me a shift from static to kinetic which may feel disconcertingly less stable, but which is not necessarily unhealthy.


Poverty in India has declined from 51.3% of the population in Frank's good old days to 27.5% in 2005. The 'land of relative equality' has grown by hundreds of millions of people during his lifetime, he's just too provincial to realize it.

Fat Man

"The landmark political fact of our time is the replacement of our middle-class republic by a plutocracy. ... If it will help restore the land of relative equality I was born in, I'll fly the plane myself."

The guy is born in 1965 and grows up in mission hills which is the fanciest suburb of Kansas City. Until he is almost 30, in 1994 he lives in a bubble of one sort or the other. When he leaves the bubble he discovers inequality.

Clearly the fancy education has not helped him at all. I am almost a generation older than he is. I remember 1965, and all the years since then. The USA is far less unequal now than it was then. There is far less true poverty (i.e. physical deprivation) now than there was then. Also 1965 was the climax of the civil rights era with the enactment of the Voting Rights Act.

Plutocracy? does that mean we should tell George Soros to put a cork in it. or is plutocracy just a synonym for Republicans being elected President?

M. Simon

It's called "growth" and if this jackass is so enamored of equality he can send me a few Gs.

How do you expect Obama to understand yopu when you talk like that.

...send me a few large. Is the proper terminology.


Don't half the people do all the work?

M. Simon


It is worse than that. 20% do 80%.


Worse, better? It may well be the same.

Jim M

Among all the Obama-bashing I've seen in JOM for... well, everything, and nothing... and the constant, nonstop drumbeat on "Bittergate" one finds here on JOM...

... this blog is curiously silent about the following comments made by a certain Democratic Presidential candidate in 1991:

"You know, he [Bush] wants to divide us over race. I'm from the South. I understand this. This quota deal they're gonna pull in the next election is the same old scam they've been pulling on us for decade after decade after decade. When their economic policies fail, when the country's coming apart rather than coming together, what do they do? They find the most economically insecure white men and scare the living daylights out of them. They know if they can keep us looking at each other across a racial divide, if I can look at Bobby Rush and think, Bobby wants my job, my promotion, then neither of us can look at George Bush and say, 'What happened to everybody's job? What happened to everybody's income? What ... have ... you ... done ... to ... our ... country?'"

And this one from the same year:

"The reason (George H. W. Bush's tactic) works so well now is that you have all these economically insecure white people who are scared to death."

Guess which one? Hint: his spouse is a current Democratic Presidential candidate.

Jim M

Meanwhile, Frank's extensive rebuttal to Bartels is here:


Not that that's gonna matter to anyone around here.

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