Comments about ‘Mary Barker: Our economic discourse tends to suffer from non sequiturs’

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Published: Thursday, Aug. 28 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Updated: Thursday, Aug. 28 2014 10:44 a.m. MDT

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Salt Lake City, UT

"It would be great if we could listen to one another and benefit from our different perspectives rather than assuming that “this” really means “that” and the defense of some really means an attack on others."

I agree. I consider myself a Marxist because I think Marx's sophisticated economic tools need to be part of mainstream economic theory. Were Marx to be included I strongly believe (based on my own reading of Marx) that we would have a much better economic map to follow.

But in now way do I see Marx's theory replacing the rest of economics.

Burke, VA

Thank you, Ms. Barker, for another common sense essay, pleading with the American public for civil discourse. It seems like a basic and honorable request but it also means that if it is implemented, many or most political arguments will be proven hollow and without substance. A continuing discourse about what is best for the nation as a whole, not just the benefit of the few, is the only way to move our country forward. We are and have been a great nation, but we can always do better.

Centerville, UT

Great piece again, Mary Barker.

clearfield, UT

Funny that Mary would use IKEA as an example. Take a look on Wiki at how they get around big taxes, using non-profit covers ect. No different than the rich Americans try to do. Waltons, Koch Bros. Buffett ect.

P.S. You know things are getting bad in the U.S. when a corporation like Berger King is looking to Canada to relocate. Thank you BO. It's been fun but time for you to go.

John Charity Spring
Back Home in Davis County, UT

History has shown that too much interference by the government in the economy inevitably destroys the economy. Government should limit itself to the protection of private property.

Charles Dunoyer famously stated that"one consequence of the industrial regime is to destroy artificial inequalities, but this only highlights natural inequalities all the more clearly." Dunoyer continued "superior abilities . . . are the source of everything that is great and useful . . . Reduce everything to equality and you will bring everything to a standstill. " This is why state intervention of any kind must be rejected. Natural inequalities such as differences in physical, intellectual, and moral capabilities are crucial to an economy of growth and innovation.

The problem with Marxism and left-wing theory is that they ignore the fact that when a government tries to put everyone at the same economic level, it fails. This is irrefutable fact. The way to achieve success is through hard work and study, not government entitlement programs.

Shame on those who think that they are entitled to have everything handed to them, simply because they exist. That is not the American way.

Virginia Beach, VA

Our economic discourse tends to suffers from non sequiturs

. . . Which is the very basis of "Conservative" reasoning.

And then there's the fact that the word "Socialism" can mean so many different things depending on Context.

Obviously the Marxist Socialism of Stalinist Russia is not at all similar to the Socialism of Finland or Sweden, which really have Capitalist mixed economies.

And then of course there's the fact that quite a few "Conservatives" completely gave up thinking years ago . . . And just recite stuff they've heard on right wing radio.

Hayden, ID

GOP CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one, and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies, and the economy grows. You sell them and retire on the income.

LIBERAL CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one, and force the other to produce the
milk of four cows. You are surprised when the cow drops dead.

You have two cows. You strap dynamite to them hoping they will save you 2 suicide bomber resources - they blow up accidentally, you have no cows.

You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows.

You have two cows. You reengineer them so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves.

You have two cows. Both are mad.

You have two cows. You count them and learn you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. You count them again and learn you have 12 cows. You stop counting cows and open another bottle of vodka.

You have two cows. You have 300 people milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and arrest the journalist who reported the numbers.

E Sam
Provo, UT

So Mary Barker produces another sensible, intelligent, beautifully reasoned and written piece, about the illogic of much of our current political discourse. And immediately two regular posters provide splendid examples of precisely that same illogic. Kudos.

Invisible Hand
Provo, UT

@GaryO and JCS: You two are talking past each other again. That type of ranting and insulting people who don't agree with you isn't constructive. You aren't going to convince anyone you are right with that approach. Seek first to understand, and find common ground. I'll go first. GaryO, I take it that you think the European socialism like they have in Finland is the model that will work best in the US. Is that true? If so, what do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of their system? Every system has trade-offs, so it comes down to the value you put on the strengths and weaknesses.

Sandy, UT

GaryO: to be fair, you should also note that the term "capitalism" means many things to many people, just as the terms "conservative" and "liberal" have different meanings. Whenever a person uses one of them to describe his or her opposition, it's meant in a pejorative sense, not as an accurate description. I think that's what Mary Barker is talking about. As a result, we end up inflaming the conversation and talking past one another.

Before we can engage in meaningful discourse, all participants need to agree on definitions of "liberal," "conservative," "socialism" and "capitalism." Of course, there's not much chance of that, but that's the very problem, isn't it?

Orem, UT

Logic often has little meaning when politics is being played. Both sides of the aisle engage in this kind of behavior so you are just purely partisan if you can only see the misdeeds of the "other side".

Ms Barker has clearly pointed out some misdeeds from the right in the economic debate. I wish she had been a bit more balanced by pointing out some equally agregious violations from the left, but I never expect such an unbiased piece from anyone these days.

In the interest of balance, I will point out a couple from the left but that doesn't mean I don't agree that the right is often guilty as well.

If you oppose minimum wage or unions you must be "anti-worker". If you think Obama's policies hurt the poor and middle classes, then you must be racist. If you want the border controlled and immigration laws enforced, you are "anti-immigrant". Etc., etc.

Irony Guy
Bountiful, Utah

GOP Capitalism (with due respect to Mountanman's ancient joke): You inherit two cows and you graze them on public property without paying for the privilege and then pull a gun on the people's representatives when they come to collect what is owed to them. You become a hero on Fox News and Mike Lee worships at your feet.

Everett, 00

Conservatives don't know the difference between Socialism and Capitalism.

It's simply a trigger used to insight the boogeyman under the stairs
-- like McCarthyism did with Communism.

The Tea-Party is nothing more than a 21st century version of the John Birch Society.
Guns, Bomb-shelters, and Anti-Government run amok.

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT

Another superb editorial by Mary Barker. And Joe2, the reason she didn't point out all the misdeeds of the liberals is that most of the non sequiturs that are damaging our ability to move forward are coming from the conservatives, who, as GaryO pointed out, have given up on rational thinking in favor of an increasingly extreme ideology. Having any sort of intelligent conversation with someone who engages in endless non sequiturs is impossible, as Mary's funny and spot-on example (snow in Boston) illustrates. Which means we will be in perpetual gridlock until the Republicans figure out a way to return to reality long enough to carry on a two-way conversation.

Hayden, ID

@ Irony Guy. A better definition of liberal Capitalism is the government redistributes two cows that they confiscated from GOP Capitalists and then the EPA fines you because your cows exhaled CO2. NSA spies on you, Eric Holder sues you because you violated affirmative action laws and the IRS targets you because you donated campaign funds for the "other guy". Your healthcare costs double with your Obamacare mandates, your cows go on food stamps and have no incentive to produce any milk and you are forced to borrow money from your grandchildren to pay for your entitlements. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid say you never paid taxes for ten years and claim you are being greedy and selfish. Not very funny but much more accurate!

Invisible Hand
Provo, UT

It would be nice if the regulars on this board would admit that not all people who call themselves conservatives are extremists, and occasionally even the extremists can make a good point. If you can't admit that then you are just as extreme as those you so arrogantly dismiss.

Draper, UT

Well said, Invisible Hand, both comments. There are many of us out here in the readership who would so welcome a thoughtful discussion/debate on the strengths and weaknesses of the various economic systems and philosophies. Or as SEY suggests, clarifying words such as "capitalism" and "socialism", "liberal" and "conservative," sans the mudslinging. However, I presume you'll agree that here those possibilities are likely wishful thinking...

Draper, UT

Well said, Invisible Hand, both comments. I think many of us in the readership would welcome thoughtful discussion/debate on the various economic systems and philosophies. Or as SEY suggests, the clarification, sans mudslinging, of terms such as "liberal" and "conservative," "capitalism" and "socialism."

However, I presume you will agree that the possibility of either here is likely wishful thinking...

Virginia Beach, VA

Hey Invisible Hand - “ . . . you think the European socialism like they have in Finland is the model that will work best in the US . . . ”

Well . . .

Again, I only refer to it as “socialism” because that’s what other people call it. As Mary pointed it out, it’s really a Capitalist-centered mixed economy.

And that is what we ALREADY have here in the US, because that is what works. When the US government paid huge amounts of money to Railroads to unite the nation, that was some pretty serious government interference that set this nation up for success and advanced capitalistic enterprise.

So we already are “socialist” in that very loose sense, if you want to call it that. But plenty of people are terrified of the term, so let’s not call it that.

Basically all I’m talking about is good governance. Let’s do what works.

As for Finland, their system works great for them, and yes we should emulate best practices from many sources (Why not?), and adapt and apply what can work for us.

That’s just common sense.

salt lake city, utah

"If you oppose minimum wage or unions you must be "anti-worker". If you think Obama's policies hurt the poor and middle classes, then you must be racist. If you want the border controlled and immigration laws enforced, you are "anti-immigrant". Etc., etc."

Joe, I'm actually going to give you the first one about workers. I actually do think that occurs a lot.

The second one is pure nonsense. It's a Republican meme that Democrats and liberals believe all opposition to Obama is racist. You got this one backward. That doesn't mean we don't think racism is present in some opposition.

I don't think the third is very accurate either. The actions of the President himself in enforcing the laws would tell you the third is inaccurate. Even in the latest kerfuffel he proposed hiring more agents and possibly using the national guard. Most of the differences the Democrats have with Republicans regarding immigration are about effectiveness not appropriateness.

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