John Leeds:This Marketwatch commentary analyzes how a good business, versus a bad business, would approach the US deficit.’

The top line:

If U.S. were run like business, it wouldn’t cut spending
Spending is good. Borrowing is better. Washington is doing neither. It’s liquidating.

☞ Exactly. We need a huge, decades long renewal of our infrastructure that would, among other things, kick our economy back into gear, end our dependence on foreign oil, and assure our long-term prosperity.

One cries at the ignorance that has led us to Sarah Palin’s Republican Party. At the avarice that has led us to the Koch brothers’ Republican Party. At the irony that fervent Christians, who should be all about aiding the poor and turning the other cheek, would become the party of tearing down the social safety net and launching wars of choice.

So what are liberals, progressives, and Eisenhower Republicans (who are now, for all intents and purposes, moderate Democrats) to do?

Do we give up? (Bad.) Do we take out our frustration on ourselves? (Worse.) Or do we throw our energy and resources into the effort to register and turn out millions of like-minded voters to take back the House, hold the Senate and White House, and flip state legislative chambers back from red to blue, so we can get America back on track to win the future?

Let me hand the microphone back to David Weidner, author of that piece:

I’ve been covering Wall Street and corporate America for going on two decades, and if there’s anything I’ve learned it’s that there are really only two kinds of companies: those growing and those shrinking.

The U.S. government today has officially become the latter.

The difference between a growing business like Apple (AAPL) and a shrinking one such as Eastman Kodak (EK) has less to do with spending and revenue and than with psychology. Growing companies go through tough times. They adapt, and they’re poised to strike when conditions are right. They don’t stop innovating.

Defeated companies may be producing steady profits. But they lose their entrepreneurial spirit. They stop looking at the future. They get intimidated. They quit fighting. They look for a sale. They try to buy growth. They play not to lose – and end up losing anyway.

Which of those does Washington sound like?

So, what would happen if Apple had to tackle the debt crisis? First, it would eliminate spending that’s not working. Then it would make a commitment to spend if necessary. Third, it would look for ideas to spend on. Finally, it would call customers’ bluff. How much are you willing to pay for what the government gives you? . . .

. . . [E]ven with all the mistakes the government makes, it still doesn’t make sense for it to be run as if the country has been defeated. It’s interesting to note that our deficit of $14 trillion is the biggest since World War II. In 1945 the deficit was 120% of gross domestic product, compared with about 97% today. So how did the nation respond? By spending on infrastructure and raising taxes. We built housing and roads, and we invested. Unemployment fell from 3.9% in 1946 to 2.9% in 1953.

By the time Harry Truman left office in 1953, the deficit was 71% of GDP. When Dwight Eisenhower left office, it was 55%. Bill Clinton raised taxes in 1993, and the U.S. saw the biggest peace-time expansion since the 1950s. . . .


Nate Black: ‘You wrote: ‘Someone gave me 10 terrific big, bright American flag beach towels. But . . . can I use them? Is it disrespectful to use the flag in this way?’ For you, as a pinko liberal, yes. For a true patriotic Tea Party type it would be just fine.’

☞ Nate included one of those little winky emoticons, to be sure I knew he was smiling. But the truth is, I think he nailed it. I’m returning them for rainbow flag towels. Or maybe big money or porpoise towels.

Dick Theriault: ‘Can you keep these towels? I say, no you can’t. The Code says the image of the flag is not to be used in any disrespectful manner. Like painting it on the ground in a Largo, FL, park. Or on the bottom of a swimming pool. Or on a beach towel. It’s not an actual flag on the ground, but it is the image of the flag that it being disrespected. This is a distinction without a difference: The piece of fabric is not the respected object – it is the IMAGE ON that fabric that is ‘the flag.’ Your towels could be displayed as flags. Their ‘towelness’ doesn’t count; their ‘flagness’ does. . . . You cite the Code. Section 176 of it makes all this pretty damn clear. To me, the absolute worst disrespect I’ve ever seen was Ralph Lauren’s flag boxer shorts, with the Union to the right of the fly and the stripes wrapping from the left of the fly around the back. First, the wearer would be sitting on the flag and second, the act of urinating between the Union and the stripes is about as gross disrespect as can be imagined. . . . Our military violate the code often by carrying the flag horizontally or furling it against the staff. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs wore a flag shirt at an Independence day parade. President G.W. Bush AUTOGRAPHED the flag! [§176(g)]  Others may have also, but this was televised. . . . The Flag Code lives more in violations than observations, and we see it daily.  Nobody really gives a damn – or knows enough to realize it.  How about some Flag Code education?”

☞  Thanks, Dick!  I think you just provided us with some.

And then Dick wrote back: “The code states, ‘The flag should never be used for . . . anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.’ Then consider the USPS flag stamp. What more perfectly fits ‘designed for temporary use and discard’? Plus the defacement of cancellation. I just get furiouser and furiouser.”

Chris Hurley:  “Whether sewn from pieces of silk, cotton, or polyester; whether stars are embroidered by hand or stitched on by machine; whether woven on a loom or imprinted on terrycloth, it’s the American flag.  (That said, I have little beef with protesters ‘desecrating’ the flag, for the flag is not holy.  If anything, our right to protest is closer to being a sacred thing.)”

Bill Spencer:  “The US Flag Code you referenced says that if you were in the District of Columbia you would be in violation of the law and subject to a fine or $100 or 30 days in jail for possession of those towels.  Ten towels?  Maybe $1000 or 300 days?  At least that’s how I read it.  Go up to your [fancy-ass] roof deck and burn them.*    May I take this opportunity to express a pet peeve of mine?  It is common practice to lower and remove the US flag in inclement weather, and that in my opinion includes severe wind storms, lest the flag be damaged.  So why are there so many idiots who, as a sign of their patriotism, drive their cars at highway speeds with US flags, some of them in shreds, flapping in the 65+ mph winds generated by their car?  (Thank you.  I’ll reserve all my other opinions for the moment.)”

*Bill did not say “fancy-ass,” but another reader did.


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