Thursday, January 28, 2010

all hat and no cattle

"All hat and no cattle" is a Texas put down about someone who talks a big game but has nothing under it. Our last cattle ranching president was Lyndon Johnson and that sure wasn't a crack you could make about Lyndon. In '64, when he signed the Civil Rights Act, he told his fellow Democrats he was signing away the South for fifty years, he did and the South went. Such is too often the reaction to true reform.

However, the saying takes on new meaning today with an article from Bloomberg(tx jesse) which states:
The U.S. cattle herd may have shrunk to the smallest size since 1958, as mounting losses during the recession spurred beef and dairy producers to cull animals, analysts said. Wholesale choice-beef prices averaged $1.4071 a pound last year, the lowest level since at least 2004, as U.S. job losses climbed and meat demand waned.
That ya'll is deflation and the question of deflation vs inflation remains the great question of the day. It sure seems despite all the money being poured in by the Fed, it is at best slowing the deflation rate. We have a still ongoing case in Japan, which for twenty years has flooded the system with money and remains in a deflationary environment. The guys who wrote the book on this phenomenon, Mr. Rogoff and Mr. Reinhart have a good piece in the FT explaining. Simply, this bad debt is dead money and it ain't going to resurrect and start walking, much more running. It needs to be buried, and until it is, it's going to act like cholesterol in our economic arteries. Older industrial economies like the US, are not going to grow like emerging economies across the globe. We're not going to be able to keep piling on debt and grow out of it. We need to fundamentally rethink our political economy.

Unfortunately, our political economy is in atrophy. Our once dynamic democracy is captured by entrenched power, and the only way it's going to change is for us to change. We need to quit worrying about what's happening in DC and start worrying what we, the people are doing. There is no dynamic change in DC because there is no dynamic change with us. If we are going to reinvigorate our political economy, it needs to start with us. We are watching the entrenched interests circle the wagons and become increasingly concerned with the "anger" peculating amongst the commoners. Populist has become the disparaging term used by knuckleheads like David Brooks to those who have the audacity to claim people in fact should be mad as hell about the looting class. Matt Taibbi has an excellent response.(tx yves)

If you know the history of the Populist movement, one of the great small "d" democratic mass movements in American history, one would be proud to be called a Populist. I'll again recommend as strongly as I possibly can the reading of Lawrence Goodwyn's The Populist Moment, if nothing else read Goodwyn's introduction here, which is simply a sublimely beautiful piece of thinking on democracy. Nothing is going to change, until we, the people change. All hat and no cattle, today that describes us, whenever we talk about democracy.

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