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Rodan attacks!

By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday May 26, 2009 07:21 PM

Rodan attacks!!!

Or maybe it should be "Larval Mothra Attacks" -- that's him over on the right, I believe.

Comrade Owen has recently been taking, if I understand him, a devil's advocate position: first about public-option health care (as opposed to single-payer), and most recently about cap-and-trade for CO2 emissions.

Owen allows as how these approaches are not be as desirable as single-payer and (maybe) a carbon tax respectively, but maybe there's something to be said for 'em. Here he is on the subject of single-payer vs. public-option:

One big slice, straight through the neck -- Conyers' uncle payer plan (HR 676); or the slow bleed to death -- Stark's free-to-choose Medicare bill?

.... Is there a serious difference here? I doubt there is, in the long run -- given a choice, a la Stark, the citizenry will gradually opt for uncle's medicare system, obviously.

So why, besides the art of the impossibly superior, prefer Conyers' plan?

Here's the analogous argument for Cap'n Trade:
Yes, in theory there is a Pigou tax that can do anything cap and trade can do -- like the carbon tax advocated by Father Smiff's pal Charles Komanoff.

And yes, single payer is a final solution devoutly to be sought.

But [o]n this green stuff, and health stuff both, a few shrewd market mechanism designs (as in cap and trade on carbon emissions, and a fightin' pub op in the health sector) is a path to decentralization and lower-archy.

Now I have a problem with this line of argument.

Owen knows a good deal more than I do about this sort of thing, and even if I thought he was wrong, I'd be hard-pressed to argue the point. But the problem doesn't arise: as a technical matter I don't doubt that he is right. A "fighting" public-option -- and a "shrewd" cap and trade program -- would no doubt be better than what we have now, at the very least, and might lead to systemic change further on (though the certainty of that seems less clear).

The qualifications -- "fighting" and "shrewd" -- are quite important, however.

It's pretty clear that single-payer isn't on the table; and if a carbon tax hasn't been ruled out, it's only because nobody who matters has ever considered it. And why? Because -- of course -- corporate America doesn't want either of these things, and corporate America -- unlike the enviro wonkery and the academic wonkery -- deploys the big battalions.

But what reason is there to believe, then, that they would stand for a "fighting" public option, or a "shrewd" cap and trade, either? What reason is there to think that we won't get Hillary Rediviva, with no-fight Romneycare sauce, by way of health care reform; and by way of emissions reduction, yet another flood of new kinds of securities to trade -- with shrewdness to be seen only in the parasites and cormorants who will make their living swapping these grubby bits of paper, made into valuable property by Uncle's fiat?

So I wonder why -- apart from professional pride -- Owen is spending his time fighting this corner.

He writes:

Pinkos better get up to speed on this region of applied public economics, and start calling the balls and strikes accurately. Just unleashing the dogmas of class war to bark, bay, and howl benightedly at the rising of the congressional harvest moon is no good.
Nobody can quarrel with that. Understanding the nuts and bolts is a good thing.

But folks like us have very little influence on events. This fact has some implications. Since we don't have to be "responsible" -- responsible, that is for the misery that the responsables in Washington are certainly going to cause -- we also don't have to be realistic. In fact, it would be a ridiculous affectation for us to be realistic. Who, after all, do we think we are? Congressional aides? What on earth is the downside for us to be maximalists, incorrigibles, millennarians? Is anything we do going to forfeit the good in favor of the unattainable best?

Still, I share Owen's pain, or some of it, anyway. Too much Left scenography introduces a tired old cast of pasteboard personifications onto the stage -- the Bourgeoisie, the Working Class, the Sellout Politicians and their pets, the Running Dogs. If Owen's goal is to sketch in some more detail and bring a breath of life to this stale discourse, then one can only applaud.

Comments (14)


i don't think we have much controversy here
father S

i share your aims your cautions and prolly often your chosen means
once i make clear what i'm suggesting
--and it ain't in and of itself
that big a deal frankly--
i think we can move on to specifics here

two pwog aims on the table in washington these days
are affordable health care
for everyone
and a greener sustainable
america ..for everyone

these are objectives we
-- america's progressive phalanx-- share
with most regular americans

unlike the gwot mirage or more taxes
and less gun play
theer arely exists any conflict
here between us and the nation's mostly white majority

and btw father
u know i agree
crack pot realism
is indeed oughta be the exclusive beat
of the tower elite

my point in the prior post was this :

the old administrative mind set
of pwogs and pinkos past
is weber/blair era passe shit

dead ....like norman thomas

today we have new public sector options

in my area its the field ofintentionally designed economic mechanism and incentive systems

two new means of nudgenomics

but this isn't exactly
nurse ratchet social engineering

yes i see it as part of the prefiguration
of an inevitable gosplan 2.0
but that's another post

and indeed iot is in ppart
a weariness with the resurrection
of card board figures
of yore
with their card board solutions
of yester yore

like :
nationalization of industrial sectors
trade tariffs and quotas
intricate social market regulations
massive redistributive taxation
and other broad socially motivated
tax and transfer systems
ie sweden as whole earth catalogue

those paradigms mates and comrades
both the welfare state
its frankenstein cousin
yes both
shot their respective bolts
somewhere after berlin 1953
and before
we jolly freaky liberated few
rounded the bend into 1980
with the rest of abe lincoln's nation

well boo hoo
the sooner social reformers realize its over the better

we are in a rising class tide today
but no " our " time has not come round again

our worthy successors
not our epigone
but our sublations made of meat
can and will attack the corporate brutes
---and win some rounds too no doubt--
but only so long
--in my estimation at least--
only so long
as they arm them selves
with new techniques
for the new social realities

in this instance
once again the green light is on
to take " state action "
but not as before
even if for the same ultimate social ends

there must be new methods

to my post :

the point of the yglesias piece was simple
cap and trade can come in two flavors

in either flavor
cap and trade's supply constraints
-- tied to emission ceilings --
create infra marginal rents
and these rents can be captured by
either flavor

by a warrant market that then distributes the proceeds of the warrent sales
back to society as desired

by a hand out dole
sending a big chunk of the warants free of charge right back to the primal polluters
ie bribes to existing corporate players
bribes ..to go along with the cap

a pigou tax presumably on emissions
works like the warrant market
in reducing emissions
and i guess you could give
refundable credits to existing players
but hey here is where
the show of it
the look of it

obviously the corporate players
most of em at any rate
rents based on quotas passed back to them
and not doled to start ups
looks some how less bad
then similarly targeted tax credits
i don't know and that's my point

to enter this struggle on the correct points
with the correct views
you gotta work out the details
on any of these developments
like why in hell greg mankiw
mephisto's monkey himself
is so big a pigou tout
--candy for the little boys???
or is there a corporate advantage ----

say if for example
-- to switch venues-- we get a pub op
and single payer stays in the curiosity shop window
we can of course play coriolanus
and banish rome even as rome banishes us

or we can figure out what the key stakes are what makes for a minimal viable expandable beach head
i know i know
leave that to the pwogs
and i agree
just like building third party anti gravity machines
this ain't core red work


popular fronts poular movements exist
if we are to plunge in ...
it will indeed end up being
a minimal struggle matter ...
but hey out there in minimalville are the real regular people eh ??

nothing here implies
we don't live in a corporate dominated society

look i get it
to win against a corporate special interest like the power companies or the hmo's
takes more then just general corporate neutrality

but in both the pro health and the anti "warming " struggle
objective general corporate interests
prolly tilt the progressive way
how could they not ???

yes these contradictions among the corporations need to be clarified
and widened
by the respective popular movements

but hey if you'd rather take a maximalist stand ...fine there's plenty of other
work to be done

just fuck up your own particular private employer and i'll be happy

or at least fuck up some private employer
or at least
u know drop out of ....the credit system
or the wage system ...or .......

i guess what always seems foul to me
is a stance that finds itself
in the last analysis
sufficiently motivated
by correctness for its own sake

what the fuck is that worth ???

and this notion of being used as a dupe
who isn't a dupe
as satan sez somewhere

" hey ass hole...we're all rubes
only god's a carney "

so why worry about another
corporate sell out swindle ??

what's new there ???

worry about not seeing
the swindle ..specifically
for what it is and targeting the pivot

right now i see
too much uninformed pinko agitation
on humble folk relief
on job market recovery
on tax and regulatory reform
on the means towarsss radical industrial restructuring

hey i'll admit it
it's got me frayed

i see pavlovian left hind legs
jiggering in the air ....uselessly

now it'll be some wild assed
"the fiends ...the fools"
on cap and trade and/or pub op

hey one final point
don't for a fuckin second figure
you all got a point
the main stream reformers don't follow

like the advantages of single payer

don't figure
they're either beyond the comprehension
of say
pete stark or far more appetizing for a lefto
erased by his corporate " bribe"

the advantages are plain and obvious and simple
what isn't so plain and obvious and simple
are the steps forward that aren't leaps but aren't delusions either
would you know the difference
if you ran into one in a dark policy ally ??

i'm old
only fairly awake
and though once almost bright
i'm now mostly beyond learning
and yet
u can safely assume i've prolly
heard some version of your gig before

so figure if i'm pushin what looks and smells
an aweful lot like shit
maybe i got my reasons

and if you got a few stale moments to waste
try filling the lacunae
in my presentations

this i promise u from here atop
mount vickrey

only my world class adhd
prevents me from filling in them lacunae myself
in my head it all fits together
like a perpetual motion machine

as the crypto gay nut
pseudo econ con gamester
john nash once opined
about a rival
who he discovered was after the same illusive proof he was after

"ya but he hasn't got my insight"


Owen -- you wrote:

 the old administrative mind set
of pwogs and pinkos past
is weber/blair era passe shit

dead ....like norman thomas

today we have new public sector options

in my area its the field of intentionally designed
economic mechanism and incentive systems

two new means of nudgenomics

... and I couldn't agree more.

But wouldn't a carbon tax (rebated to the public on a per-capita basis), for example, qualify as "nudgeonomics" without any taint of Stalinstadt?

Admittedly, medicare for everybody is more like the old paradigm. But then so are free Gummint-built roads.

Obviously Obama & Co. are not going to give us either a carbon tax or universal Medicare. Personally I doubt that they're going to give us anything even minimally acceptable. So I guess my own inclination -- not having any expertise in the technical issues -- is to use these topics as a means of getting people pissed off, to the best of my power.

Contrasting the labyrinthine Rube Goldberg kleptocratic schemes that the paid wonkery comes up with and the paid-off legislature enacts, with something simple and straightforward and sound -- even if it's unrealistic under current political conditions -- is a expository strategy I've found moderately effective.


Well! When father Zeus and his offspring speak we mortals can only stand in awe. What a paragon of even-handedness and generosity is Father Zeus! How modest and humbly explanatory is Apollo! Where is the rhymer/trickster, Hermes, the seditious hipster Dionysus, the brooding smoulderer, Hephaistus? Has peace and harmony come at last to Olympus?

We'll find out tomorrow, in the next episode of Marx and Engels in Exile!


i guess i'm suggesting a little less agit
and a little more prop father s

see it ...don't like it... tax it
is old school
see it ...like it ...bribe it
is old school nothing new there

hierarchy and its advantages of co ordination thru compulsion
its powers of credit only limited by the capacity to produce
the ability to mobilize to the max
these are virtues not seen round here...really seen
since the end of WWII

we need to declare war on poverty here obviously
ala lbj
and open new fronteers here ala jfk
but not promises but programs

the 60's was all about discovery the limits of the old social democratic paradigm

this needs to be like the first round of the new paradigm

groping for clio's future
with a driven preeverts boldness

i agree
bribing the people
to swallow the carbon tax
with a off set non proportionate rebate
vs bribing the power company
is the only pwog clean gubmint way
but its the swedish way
its smacks of class harmony presumptions
class harmony is the product of international rent/surplus flows
that's as old as corporate imperialism itself
its the fuckin basis of social democracy eh ??

but ahhh

build one of my cap and trade mechanisms
build it big enough
and with enough impact to kick up interest
among even the wage smurfs ...

ya its a gamble on methods

in fact that's the point
audacity audacity ..fortunately ob has only killed the hope part of his formula
by reversing the causation

its really
the hope of audacity

as u know father s
my real aim is a collander vickrey lerner
mark up cap and trade for at least the medi sector
ie the whole
"real" sectorof hospitals hospices nursing homes
drugs docs labs machine services etc

buying warrents to raise prices

quantity cap systems are one thing
what amounts to
planned cost cap systems
quite another

let me put it this way
do you recall
the wage price spiral ??
it was the inevitable final product
of unfettered class struggle in a managed macro open micro
closed national system
it spelled doom to true full employment

the high seventies presented a fork

either class concertation
"let us reason together"
or class coercion
ie mussolini lite
or both
nixonian price freezes
incomes controls
or heavy job rationing
by chronic output slack
or by chronic import product dumping
by stop and go between both and all
what we morphed into the last 30 years

sweden didn't owen

ya well look into that folks
sweden also stayed out of the two great euro wars of the century too

no better look at it this way

recall the angel in satan's party
that decides to return to heaven
not rebel decides to join the better angels
just before the battle
there's always some decent jerk everywhere

call sweden that jerk


well look at their women

we have
by the use of well designed mechanisms
the ability ...today
to begin socialism anew

sublate capitalism anew

end the fear
of open full throttle employment
end the stymie of rampant price levels
by putting prices to the wall
and yes
squeezing the profit margins
thru open class struggle

lowering the real interest rate
maybe to pre programed negative numbers

auctioning escrowing
the outcomes of voluntary acts
effective algorithms of price reduction
push thru
ie rent sump hose outs
doing by intent what open spontaneous hierarchy free markets never do

where the the existence
of some dynamic ghost
perfecting markets
thru open flat competition is a farce
make it so by design

we need to totalize
but at the same time decentralize
use our spontaneous ways
god almighty gave us free wills
we need to give all economic principles/agents
that same freedom

a way that locates the initiative
always at the most different points possible
and at the lowest level possible

my beloved old gosplan
with its storming tragets
its physical balances its gulags for the superannuiated

ahh what a tragi-comic horror show that became

stalinoid system may in my mind be just what we humans deserve for a final condition
but it ain't what we'll get
89 proved that to my satisfaction
but hey
the bastards were on to something ..

in the spirit of nicholson on marx vs marshall

gosplan has the same relation
to this new raft of intricate mechanism shit
i'm proposing
as a pirate map has
to the gps thing there
flyin around up in space there

we need a big bold demonstration of this
new possible world

a pilot project
enter carbon cap and trade
its as good as any

i'd prefer health sector pricing
but that's too ambitious
in fact i'd prefer a temporary demonstration economy wide
in conjunction with a huge dollar deval
to deal systematically and ...fairly
with the follow on giant import price waves

---is it clear now
this isn't about your father's markets

markets in the chamber of babbits sense
not at all

and yes
saints preserve us
its pure pointy head shit
pwog pond pipe dreamer shit

okay so warm up the red guards
or better
the civil burger rioters
to smash gosplan 2.0 to bits some day

hey clio already has the mobilization plans getting drafted up i bet

but lets not let
what is it ??
could be wait apon not yet

let's push uncle
to fuckin build the rocket
fire it at fuckin tel avivincorporated
and see what the fuck happens

that kind of wild wooly
let's see method
was the greatness of the new deal

let ten thousand mechanisms contend
let one hundred thousand markets perfect

tim d:

"But wouldn't a carbon tax (rebated to the public on a per-capita basis), for example, qualify as "nudgeonomics" without any taint of Stalinstadt?"

the danish have been using the carbon tax in another, perhaps more tactical way:



Would any readers of this site support me for a few weeks while I sift through the above comments and try to compose a "Dummies Guide to Owen's Economic Theories"?


nice link
it presents several good points

the tax path must end with zero revenue= zero emissions or there abouts
adicting the "state" to revenue sets the pigou tax at revenue max
not a bad way to extract rents but no way to minimize emissions

again a cap just sets the emission total
end of discussion
the cost of warrants is like the tax only now its on its feet
the point is cap on emission
that is the certainty here
the price of warrants unlike the pigou rate can be left to "sponataneous motivations"

next ...denmarks tax AND subsidy plan

ie the revenue gets fed back into the power generation sector to build more alternative green power
fine that's what industrial policy is all about

take the warrant revenue and use it the same way

the real issue
there is no need to tie one to the other
unless it accelerates the process more then taking each side seperately

there's a very lovely model
called the george theorem
where given certain thru the looking glass assumptions
maximal ground rent exactly equals
optimal infrastructure investment

maybe something green and equally nice exists in industrial wonderland too

but regardless there is no logic here that tilts one way or the other
between pigou tax and cap and trade

the practical details decides all

point to ponder
if the scandovians already have this
why don't we??
i submit its because we ain't part of greater sweden
we don't like no stinking taxes

get fuckin use to it folks
we gotta find an american way
or move to aahus

To repeat: How have FCC licenses improved either broadcasting or public revenues? The answer isn't obvious to me. In fact, I tend to think they've done harm, since they have carried no parallel ties to public interests.

I strongly suspect carbon caps will be the same. The revenues, if any, will not be sequestered and spent to solve problems. And, the instant the boot starts pinching, the policy will get loosened.

I strongly disagree with OP-san on this one. Why study this trickery very much? As MJS says, we ain't gonna be influencing it, either. Why not get busy snatching public enterprise from the slandering jaws of defeat? Eric Blair (whom I think takes excessive hits here) fetishists don't own the state.


"The revenues, if any,
will not be .... spent
to solve problems'

looks like for the present most benefits
are going to be bribes
to the coal and gas power generators
in the form of rents as marginal prices
--those including the cost of a warrant --

the fiasco potential
is only exceeded by the profit potential

green can be beautiful baby !!!!

as i say
the left needs a few of its own umps
calling the balls and strikes

the shape of things to come

pigou vs coase



Carbon taxes will lend predictability to energy prices, whereas cap-and-trade systems will aggravate the price volatility that historically has discouraged investments in less carbon-intensive electricity generation, carbon-reducing energy efficiency and carbon-replacing renewable energy.
Carbon taxes can be implemented much sooner than complex cap-and-trade systems. Because of the urgency of the climate crisis, we do not have the luxury of waiting while the myriad details of a cap-and-trade system are resolved through lengthy negotiations.
Carbon taxes are transparent and easily understandable, making them more likely to elicit the necessary public support than an opaque and difficult to understand cap-and-trade system.
Carbon taxes can be implemented with far less opportunity for manipulation by special interests, while a cap-and-trade system’s complexity opens it to exploitation by special interests and perverse incentives that can undermine public confidence and undercut its effectiveness.
Carbon taxes address emissions of carbon from every sector, whereas some cap-and-trade systems discussed to date have only targeted the electricity industry, which accounts for less than 40% of emissions.
Carbon tax revenues would most likely be returned to the public through dividends or progressive tax-shifting, while the costs of cap-and-trade systems are likely to become a hidden tax as dollars flow to market participants, lawyers and consultants.


"Better to pass nothing until the population revolts and forces good legislation that actually accomplishes something."

who here solutes this flag ??

Peter Ward:

So the moral, apparently, is: since we can't really make things better we should focus on the aesthetics and other superficial qualities of the debate?

Realizing constructive social change is a function of how organized people are in fighting for what they seek. Right now the left (in this country--in Bolivia it's a different story) is in a mess and nearly powerless as a result. Therefore a constructive reaction is figuring out how we get organized. But in order to pursued people we need to get organized we have to harp on stale themes. Unfortunately those who consider themselves leftists* would generally prefer to sit around and gossip (Cf Doug Henwood's frequent LBO-Talk posts on complete irrelevancies) than fight to end preventable human suffering--the task is left to others, in the case of Climate Change many of those others happen to be Christian fundamentalists.

*As opposed to those who actually get out and fight such as the African immigrants represented by a union I'm associated with who were subject to various abuses by their employer, a major retail here in New York--incidentally, previous campaigns by the union, Retail Action Project, have had a fair measure of success.


"since we can't really make things better we should focus on the aesthetics and other superficial qualities of the debate"

good point
one can lose the substance in questing
for the ultimo form of solution or worse
optimal path to a solution
better to strike a well intended blow

"in order to pursue people we need to get organized we have to harp on stale themes."

among ourselves ???

" Unfortunately those who consider themselves leftists... would generally prefer to sit around and gossip ... than fight to end preventable human suffering"

sounds all to human to me

"..the task is left to others, in the case of Climate Change many of those others happen to be Christian fundamentalists."

are u trying to spoil my digestion ??

on second thought
not even sure that's bad

one recalls L.A.'s
spate of liberation theology
in another faith stream
the hezi wezi welfare efforts

Retail Action Project



ps larval mothra

looks exceedingly goyisher eh ??

to add to father S's smut fest of a tableau

that is nanzilla there in the midst of it operating too close to baby M's ..head
for comfort

further btw
rodan seems to be playing his accustomed role
opportunistic ....cruel ..essentially without higher purpose

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Tuesday May 26, 2009 07:21 PM.

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