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Squealer preaches it

By Mike Flugennock on Monday January 17, 2011 10:18 PM

In a speech some weeks ago, read before the pro-union Economic Policy Institute, Larry the porcine Merlin gave us an exit sum-up. It's all too obvious that reality is wildly different from his twice-told tale. But don't think doc Summers doesn't know the score; don't think he doesn't know what he's done and not done.

Here's Larry's introductory evaluative criteria, the yardstick and scale he uses to vindicate WH policy:

"It is by what happens to the middle class that our economic policies have to be judged."
In particular,
"A better life for our citizens [and] Upholding the 250 year American tradition of children whose lives are better than their parents'"
Let's skip Larry on the past two years, and "what the White House did to strengthen the economic position of the middle class". I'd like to focus on Larry's vision thing.

He calls this long haul objective "Keeping our Economy the Envy of the World" and he warns "We need to renew the American economy for a century that will be very different from its predecessor."

Here's the pivot:

"the key lesson that management strategists have distilled for businesses is this: you don't succeed by producing exactly the same thing that other people are producing in the same way just at a lower cost. You succeed, by establishing your own uniqueness and excellence... The United States has led the global economy by building on its unique capacities.

By building on our distinctive strengths, we can continue to lead in the next century.

There is no going back to the past. Technology is accelerating productivity in mass production to the point where even China has seen manufacturing employment decline by more than ten million jobs over the most recent decade for which data is available.

We are moving towards a knowledge and service economy... the world is shrinking... It is a different, a smaller world. What does it mean to adapt to this?"

Get it? We gotta find the next crop of rent generating products -- stuff that isn't in the process of commodification. It's like the proverbial racing ahead of the steam roller... but to pick up billions.

Now Larry sez it's possible 'cause, 'cause, well, well we done it before so now we just gotta do it some more, only now on a national scale.

Do what exactly? Something he calls "the American North " did in the last century: namely, to prosper

".. even as the southern part of the United States caught up, even as we drew strength in the generation after World War II as Europe and Japan's economies converged towards our own"
Ummh, yeah, give or take a few Fall Rivers and Brocktons, as they say where I come from, and, err, a few Flints and Toledos too.

Here's the homework for America as assigned by Professor Summers:

"Find ways to prosper as the emerging markets of the world take their place on the global stage."
So, Professor, the last 40 years of industrial contraction and regional corrosion in "the American north" represents a necessary warning shot and graphic lesson?

But the past is just prologue, as the man said. What now should "our" approach be?

Not "to compete with the world on price even if it means striving to win races to the bottom." Nope, that's not for us, not if we want our "middle class" to "prosper". Better yet, no "workers" sacrificing "wages, benefits, and bargaining rights to hold onto their jobs." No slashing of "taxes on businesses even as their profits rise in order to lure them to stay in the United States." No shredding the "social safety nets in the name of self-reliance." Larry thinks "such Social Darwinism was bad morality and bad economics in the 19th century, and it is no better in the 21st."

Nice to see that you've caught up with Charlie Dickens, Larry. Maybe now that you're out of office, and no longer run Harvard, you've had a chance to do some reading?

Okay, Larry, now take us to this better place. Larry is like, so there:

"Consider this: The flatness of the world notwithstanding, by far the largest part of the activities Americans engage in and the goods they buy remain quite local. It is health care and retail services, recreation and education, haircuts and insurance policies, hotels and houses and I could go on."
I bet you could, Larry. I bet you could. Just how many credits is this course, anyway?
"Moreover, where we compete with other countries, our strength is collective. Few of us can hope to succeed as individuals in a global economy where any particular task or skill can be purchased at very low prices in much of Asia and beyond. Rather, our strength must come from establishing uniqueness, establishing that which is difficult to replicate, that which comes from more collective action."
He's rolling now! Let's let him roll:
"Any idea or machine or even individual capacity can be transplanted. Far harder to transplant, imitate, or emulate are our great institutions – the national laboratories and the national parks and the national highway system, great universities and great cities and great technology clusters, a diverse culture, deep capital markets, and a tremendous ethic.

Where competition is concerned, the lesson for us as a nation is the same as the lesson for business: far better to compete by innovating, leading, and competing on strength, than by standing still, and reducing prices. Let me highlight what I see in this regard as the three essential priorities for the years ahead. "

Are you ready for it?
"President Clinton used to say that in a world where ideas can move, capital can move, a nation's distinctive strength lay in its people. Our biggest failing as a nation over the last 50 years has been with respect to education. We were once the envy of the world; now we struggle to get into the top half of OECD nations.

The Duke of Wellington famously observed that the Battle of Waterloo had been won on the playing fields of Eton, and I would suggest that in this less elitist age, the battle for America's future will be won or lost in its public schools. For too long we have been caught in a sterile debate between those who believe in more accountability and those who see the need for more resources. In truth, no one who has seen the conditions in our urban schools can deny the need for more resources, and no one who believes in incentives can deny the need for more accountability.

Through Race to the Top the Administration has sought to reform elementary and secondary education both by providing resources and by increasing accountability. These kinds of efforts will need to be magnified in the future.

Even as we strengthen elementary and secondary education, we must also expand higher education opportunities. The US used to lead the world in the share of young people who became college graduates. It is no longer in the top ten..."

*Thrusts fingers down throat and vomits*

Onward the chariot rumbles, last seen poring over the high side, screaming "more means tested scholarships, more means tested scholarships"!

Now, however, comes the real Larry hobby-horse stuff. "Unique institutions"! I.e.

"the link between education and... innovation, the other central pillar of economic growth... "

"We have had for a very long time in the United States a distinctive ecology which is the reason we are the leading economy in the world."

Watch as Larry makes myth run uphill:

"On the one hand, we have recognized, venerated, and acted on the observation that it is individualists – the Edisons, the Fords, the Gates and Zuckerbergs – who, with a uniquely anti-bureaucratic temperament, who would not dream of a filing a grant application, who drive an enormous amount of the economy's progress. We have maintained a culture where it is still true today that with all our financial system's failings, and they are many, we are the only country in the world where you can raise your first hundred million without owning a tie if you have a sufficiently good idea. And that is a great strength of our economy."
Oh sweet Jesus. The Zuckerbergs. Let's have some more Zuckerbergs. Not to mention the Gates' -- both of whom went to Harvard, not so coincidentally.

"At the same time as maintaining a culture that supports the entrepreneur, that salutes the rebel, that allows people to establish themselves as major figures in business without even bothering to complete a college degree – at the same time as having support for the individual, we also recognize that fundamental innovation and progress will not happen without the public sector playing its essential role.

There would be no internet without DARPA. No car industry without highways. No pharmaceutical revolution with the NIH.

Maintaining and increasing our American capacity for innovation thus requires both fundamental support for entrepreneurial innovation and for the key foundations of science and technology.

That's why we have to make it easier to patent a new idea or innovation; make it easier for entrepreneurs and small businesses to raise capital; make it easier for the most promising minds and the most promising entrepreneurs to come to this country from around the world."

Gotta love it: the guy from the Academy by way of Wall Street wants the labs, universities, and, I presume, big studios of the nation, cookin' along, turning out intellectual property by the long ton.

Between that and Wall Street's paper towers we will...let's see... insure a broadly prosperous ever materially advanced middle class? Recall Larry's yardstick here?

By devoting our public dollars and might to the support of IP, Inc. outfits we'll raise the golden mean?

This is amazing. How can he expect anyone to fall for this shit, even if conflated with cries for more higher ed. The man knows these world-leading institutions have already internationalized their sources for top earners. From Hollywood to Harvard, it's third-world brains a-go-go. The Zuckerbergs are just the thin end of the wedge.

From fashion to fusion, it's only the globe's best for these top outfits. So how does that trickle down, Larry?

It's a rich text. There's so much more:

"Budget deficits are a tax on our future, unless used to finance productive investments... it is essential that we establish long-run parity between revenues and expenditures."
Though he adds this:
"Baumol's Disease... In certain areas, rapid productivity growth is possible... but it always has and always will take 8 teachers to teach 96 students for one hour in classes of twelve."

To infuriate MJS, Larry adds "Moynihan's Corollary to Baumol's Disease: there is a tendency in activities in which Baumol's disease is most pronounced to migrate to or be located in the public sector..."

Moral: "That's why Bowles-Simpson so important."

Lovely. Bowles-Simpson! That fucker was DOA. Wonderful to consider how a text delivered in mid-Decemeber, even a text from a world-historical mind like El Puerco's, will pass its sell-by date long before mid-January.

Comments (18)


attributed to Flugennock?! this has op oozing from every blurb.

Boink sez on 01.18.11 @01:56:
...this has op oozing from every blurb.

Seriously, man... I wish I had the kind of discipline it takes to plow through that crap and break it down like that. I wish I could do it half as good as that.

anonymous sock puppet:

Frau Gates (Melissa French Gates) went to Duke. There is a French Family Science Center at Duke ($115 Million) to demonstrate that. I know SMBIVA will be deeply impressed by this philanthropic act. <-- ambiguity ... get it?!


Consider this: The flatness of the world notwithstanding
This is a Tom Friedman allusion, isn't it?

Facebook ≈ The Automobile?

I understood about 37% of this post. Improvement!


i really should have boiled off the larding here
always important when " doing " ...pig
as my chief CLSL likes to say

here's the take away

larry wants uncle to support our
world class creative institutions

not just preserve
our boot strap system
of entrepreneur/innovators
and errr ...
he goes a bit more lightly on this....
our hungry quenchless credit markets


what draws me is his clear distinction between surplus yielding novel "products"
what he fails to notice
these surplus pools are more often an artefact of our fleet of
system /market controling
competition blocking
oligop outfits
then our fantasy
tom swift jr's
and sawyers


in other words
the whole complex of interlocked organizations
that throttle the great menace
plain old copying methods and products
and cutting cost of production ...
that is of course...unless
the knock offing and off shoring
is done or co opted
by one or other tenticle
of the oligop complex itself

t'is a great game
but if you can slow the pace of competition
to a speed like the tarmac flattener
in a fish called wanda..
well then
picking up the billions
while crossing back and forth in front
of the massive roller
becomes a delightful romp !!!!


Like some kind of Rube Goldberg flying machine, the argument almost becomes airborne at one point, only to lurch to the right, lose a wing, and crash to the ground.


More stuff on fire. Twiddling with Rome's imperial ledgers is for people who fancy themselves radicals while they draw a university salary; they hardest challenge they'll face all day is the choice between the Shiraz and the Cabernet.


fuck you, in advance, you sanctimonious prig.

Op-san, this is a real find, a museum-quality gem lying right out on top of the calcifying turds. Even in our age of super-senility in the overclass, I've yet to see a single statement that packs more of the conventional delusions into each sentence. Wow!

Can't decide which of the scores of AmCaps is funniest.

This one may be it:

"would not dream of a filing a grant application"


i agree larry is the embodied buddha
of institutional creative capitalism
harvard yard annex

And shame on EPI for letting this fuck in the door.


Isn't this just re-cycled Clinton era stuff, information superhighway, new skills through more education, everyone into the symbol-manipulating class, etc.?


More stuff on fire. Twiddling with Rome's imperial ledgers is for people who fancy themselves radicals while they draw a university salary; they hardest challenge they'll face all day is the choice between the Shiraz and the Cabernet.


fuck you, in advance, you sanctimonious prig.


Damnit, you guys! I just choked on my evening mug of peppermint tea!

Also I wonder if there'd be any point to having Mike F. draw a caricature of Summers. It almost seems redundant.


"No car industry without highways."

It truly was a visionary scheme to build vast tracts of asphalt across the country and just wait to see what sort of innovation would occur..there it is, the automobile!


" Isn't this just re-cycled Clinton era stuff "
to that extent we are still IN the clinton era
despite a decade of nasty developments

"information superhighway, new skills through more education, everyone into the symbol-manipulating class"

i think summers uses the more higher ed gig as a covering fire
in front of equal opportunity
non merit POVer gatherings
pro union think tankers

what i see is larry the champion of
american based novel product /IP generating institutions
metro goldwyn mayer
goldman sack cloth
bell labs
and princeton univeristy

i think he realizes we can't produce skill heads cheap enough
to take a growing share of the globe's skill jobs
he's just mouthing piety here
but i do think he believes
our harvards and
warners and ralph laurens
our Young & Rubicam
and fermi labs
can continue to "produce" the lion's share of global innovations of the "takes a big org
big budget variety "
especially if uncle pumps in
lots of public funds


"goldman sack cloth
bell labs"

Nice examples you picked. Thoroughly illustrative.

Bell Labs has ceased to exist. It was destroyed by the near-senator from California, that one-person mongol horde Fiorina, who secured a place in the ruling class for her progeny unto the tenth generation in the process. I interned at that marvellous place in the 90's. I hope Fiorina's death is slow and painful, and the sooner the better.

GS is still going strong, on the other hand. There isn't much left for shareholders after the looters take their cut, which is of course why anyone with good analytical ability would kill to go to work there.

Research and innovation outside finance is for losers. That's how things work in this country, unlike, say, Germany. I think Larry the Pig knows it, he's just mouthing the usual pieties. Do you think his next 10 million will come from Caterpillar?


My surfing is starting to be listless, even here at SMBIVA, becoming more just tooling around for a few minutes to check out the scene, take a few turns in the pipeline, but something is missing.
This being the last throes of the technological age (resource depletion and climate catastrophe coming to wreck the frat party), I wonder if MJS and OP can supply a laugh track when providing these truly absurd quotes from these bloated mandarins. I just cannot read them straight-up.

And MD is right - EPI invited this criminal? Who talked to him over the canapes? What kind of small talk goes on at these post-liberal soirees?

Bell Labs has ceased to exist.
Boy is that the truth. I did a brief contracting gig at one of the poor sad scattered remnants of that once-mighty institution last year. It was like Miss Havisham's house. Corridors dimly illuminated -- every third fixture was lit. Common areas in the formerly luxe corporate digs dusty, dark, the bookshelves filled with back issues of the ACM Transactions from the early 90s. Poor sad sack programmers working at half-throttle or less on internally-developed database software and programming languages that nobody outside this New Jersey Brigadoon has ever heard of. Feeble spindly old white guys creeping like narcotized spiders toward a retirement that may never come. Everybody younger than 60 was from India or China, and even they weren't taking the gig very seriously; just marking time till the thing with Google came through. One occasionally saw small voodoo offerings of food and drink left outside the cobwebby office where Bjarne Stroustrup is said to materialize from time to time.

A very different picture from the last time I worked for the outfit, in the palmy days before Judge Green, in the very early 80s, I think.

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