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Where are the serious Republicans?

So asks our newest columnist, Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, in "Trivial Pursuits," just posted to the home page. Here's how it starts:

Republicans were fewyou could count them on one handin our Chicago neighborhood. The one on our block, Bob ORourke, was the Republican counterpart to Ann W. OBrien, the Democratic precinct captain and my aunt. ORourke, always dressed in suit and tie (even on the hottest days), had an office job. He was invariably polite and genial, though a bit reticent around my father and his fierce Democratic loyalties. ORourke had the duty, as did my aunt, to get his voters to the pollsfew though they were. This was more time-consuming for her than for him; even so, she never failed to help him out on other precinct-captain duties, negotiating the repair of potholes, arranging garbage pick-ups, and removing fallen tree branches. Now and again, my aunt may have turned one of his voters to her own purposes by offering a very special favor (a city job). As far as we know, he never turned one of hers. He was too upright: a model Republican, full of probity and gravitasthe Dwight Eisenhower and Robert Taft of Carmen Avenue.That probity and gravitas long served as a counterweight to the transgressions and rowdiness of the Democrats. But today there are few Republican exemplars of either probity or gravitas: only Richard Lugar of Indiana comes immediately to mind. Most of his congressional colleagues are not serious about governing; too many are just, well, clownish.

Read the rest here. For more on the GOP's incredible vanishing moderates, check out E. J. Dionne's "Extreme Makeover."P.S. Don't miss Kurt Orzeck's take on California's looming elections, "Midterm Exam," also posted to the homepage, which, in case you haven't noticed, is updated regularly with new articles. Visit early and often.

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So, if I have this right, one can only be "serious" if one is "moderate."' Can such a facile presumption really form the basis for a serious editorial?

No, you don't have it right. The word "moderate" doesn't appear anywhere. Ms. Steinfels wrote "serious," as in "serious about governing" as opposed to "serious about posturing" or "serious about aiding and abetting ruling-class self-pity."

Great story about Margaret's aunt - she disagreed with her counterpart yet was kind and civil - we could all learn from that.Margaret, not only is there no Republican with gravitas, there is no Democrat either - you have hit the nail on the head about "serious-mindedness" (being single-hearted) - expressing oneself passionately does not make one serious-minded - Jim Pauwels says it best by wanting to know the Catholic dimension in the discussion of political issues - what is the Church's position on funding an unjust war (should there be Catholic-sponsored protests /and where will we on this blog be if there are: talking about it or marching) - and what is the Church's view regarding moral responsibility of a nation which accumulates more debt by spending - what is the Church leadership role in all this and what is the individual Catholic's role?

In her hackneyed partisan rant Ms. Steinfels writes: "Though the Democrats are now in control of Congress, they are obstructed by the minority. The Party of No systematically thwarts Democratic efforts to extend unemployment benefits, reform the financial system, bring down health-care costs, stimulate the economy, and begin to remedy the budget deficit. At the same time, the Senate impedes the presidents ability to govern by holding up the appointment of cabinet-level administrators and federal judges. The Republicans goal: implementing the contract on America by sapping the effectiveness of government."Nonsense. The Democrat control the house by 257 to 158 Republicans, and until Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts controlled the Senate by 60 to 40 (counting two independents as Democrats).BTW, Eugene McCarraher's response to Mark Proska: No, you don't have it right. First, Steinfels article implies lack of moderation is the problem with Republicans - with moderation defined as supporting Obama's asinine liberal - left wing agenda. Second, Grant Gallicho's post - which is what Proska responded to - uses the word "moderates" and indicates Gallicho understood Steinfels article to refer the absence of moderate Republicans ("For more on the GOPs incredible vanishing moderates )

This is just one reader's opinion/suggestion: these essentially political articles would be more valuable to me if they would explore more explicitly the religious, Catholic dimensions of some of the issues named, such as war and deficit spending.

Mark P. ==This is a serious question -- what positive steps has the Republican Congressional leadership taken either to support what you think is supportable in Obama's proposals (unless you think his program is a total zilch) or to offer alternative solutions to the real problems the country faces? I'm thinking of energy policy, the infrastructive problems, the debt, economic stimulus, the wars, education, regulation of financial institutions, etc., etc., etc.?In other words what have the Republicans done for us lately? Or tried to do?

"Asinine left-liberal agenda"? From a guy who's escalated the war in Afghanistan; thrown billions Wall Street's way; delivered 40 million new customers to corporate health insurance, an enormous wing of finance capital; supported a bogus "financial regulation" bill that doesn't even begin to address the damage done by, oh yes, Larry Summers and Co., his Bolshevik cabal; ignored the stagnation of real wages for the working class (the majority of Americans, let's recall, not that amorphous "middle-class" of whom he and other politicians are so fond) -- the list could go on. Oh, and "moderate" is a word used by Grant, not Margaret Steinfels. Richard Lugar , the specific example she cites, is hardly a moderate.The sheer blindness to empirical reality -- and to English prose -- of right-wing commentators on this blog is truly astonishing.

Actually, I was describing E. J. Dionne's column, where you'll find the following, since I know some of you can't be bothered to read what you criticize:

A genial and courtly man in the manner of the elder President Bush (who held a fundraiser for him in Kennebunkport), the nine-term congressman was mourning the decline of both the conciliatory style of politics that animated his career and the moderate Republican disposition that the Tea Party is determined to destroy.

I finally read The Last Hurrah this summer. Great fun. One argument it offers is that social welfare did away with the political boss (Edwin OConnor couldn't have known about the Chicago exception, of course). That seems right to me. But, I wonder if government is actually less efficient now? Do people get the services they need?Certainly when it comes to potholes and snowplowing, I can't get anything done on my little street.

Apparently Republicans are going to try their "Contract on America" trick again, this time headlined, "Pledge to America." http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/23/house-republicans-to-prese... all around...left and right; wonder where the moderates will come out on this?

Jim S. I would say my aunt was strategic (as well as civil), maybe kind of kind, but she didn't suffer fools gladly--a family trait (of which I have only a weak genetic expression). By strategic I mean she held to the idea that anyone who really understood how politics worked would be a Democrat--at least in Chicago. And the way to express that idea was to be an effective and efficient precinct captain, which she was. Even so, some would never be convinced and she treated them with respect (you never know!).For that reason my father, her brother-in-law, could never have been the precinct captain. He thought Republicans were not merely misinformed, they were dead wrong--full of culpable ignorance. That was the Catholic Teaching where I grew up--Jim Pauwels.

Margaret - was that last comment directed to anyone in particular? :-) And is that the weak genetic expression you referred to in the prior paragraph? :-)

I'm toying with the idea of going to Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity. (Million Moderate March). http://www.rallytorestoresanity.com/Being a moderate, though, I'm not sure I feel like dealing with DC traffic. Seriously, I think maybe he's on to something: the best way to deal with all of this extremism is just to laugh at it.

Catholic witness as Chicago Democratic precinct captain - I can see that.I'm from a small town (or so it would be viewed by denizens of Manhattan or Chicago) - a place that shares with 3-4 other Northern towns the distinction of being the birthplace of the Republican Party. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are/were all Main Street Republicans (a group now known as Tea Partyers). All are/were fervent Catholics. Catholicism, to them, meant going to daily Mass, praying the rosary, and hating the Soviet Union. The Democratic Party was run by the unions, who were in bed with the Communists, who were funded by the Soviet Union. This attitude apparently didn't conflict (or maybe it did) with the union cards that several members of the family carried around in their wallets and purses.

I think the Tea Partiers are bonkers, but I have to raise a question: What's so great about "moderation"? Can you imagine, for instance, a discussion in antebellum America about "moderate" slaveholders? ("Tonight on The Lehrer Report, we speak to representatives of two opposing sides: one who argues for the retention of whipping slaves, and one who argues for more humane and benevolent treatment of slaves." Proponents of abolition would have been kept off the airwaves as "irresponsible," "extreme" -- in other words, not "moderate.") Today, advocates of "moderation" are, in effect, conservatives, even if they and others consider themselves "liberals." As Obama's servility to corporate capital demonstrates, "liberalism," for lack of a better term, is the left side of the Washington consensus. Yes, let's have the exploitative relations of capitalism, but let's all be nicer about it. Yes, let's have an empire, but let's not look like thugs. Yes, let's have debate about health care, immigration, etc., but let it be "responsible," i.e., analysis that remains within the prevailing ideological parameters. Hence, the venerable centrist two-step: "critics from the right and the left. . ." You never hear criticism from the left, the real left that is, in the mainstream media. As much as I like his work, E. J. Dionne is not on the left -- he's on the left side of the mainstream, which is not very wide.

There is no moderation as to principles, only moderation as to strategy. The Gospel clearly states what happens to the "lukewarm".

This is priceless.What happened to those tame, nice, Elks Club Republicans who we could count on to lose, or when they won do pretty much what we would have done?Guess what, a lot just became democrats, a few stayed just like you love 'em, but a whole bunch got , well . . . uppity.Seriously, how dare they rock the boat? Just who do they think they are?

Do probity and gravitas win elections, though? Consider:President Carter: enough probity and gravitas (and intelligence) for six presidents, yet a decisive majority of Americans thought his presidency failed.President Reagan: perhaps not a large dollop of genuine personal gravitas, but knew how to effortlessly project gravitas into the television cameras.President GHW Bush: probity, ok. Gravitas? His social position and record of public service say yes; but my recollection is that he didn't wear the mantle of authority very comfortably.President Clinton: I'd think most of us believe he had neither probity nor gravitas; yet he was extremely good at winning elections.President GW Bush: kinda the same as President Clinton. Seemed to be trying too hard to act presidential.President Obama: probity aplenty. Said to have considerable gravitas, but I don't think he projects it very well in his public appearances - this is, I believe, a major reason that his speeches haven't succeeded in moving public opinion.

From Kurt Orzek's piece on the California elections, "Midterm exam," linked above: "The embodiment of corporate culture, Fiorina fired more than thirty thousand employees, and exported jobsall while earning a $100 million salarybefore being dismissed in 2005. Flaunting her business acumen, she said in a September 1 debate with Boxer that HP shareholders "benefitted from my time there"not mentioning that the company's stock jumped when she was ousted."30,000 people fired! Okay Jim P. Is that Catholic teaching?

JP: On your probity/gravitas meter. Can we agree that getting elected and actually governing require different talents, and not every president possesses both--though some do; about who we probably don't agree?And then, I may be in the minority of Americans that thought Jimmy Carter was a good president with a lot of bad choices to be made. But his human rights policies embedded the importance of respect for all humankind in our foreign policy--not that it's sufficiently observed.

Gene, I think E.J.'s point is rather simple, and dovetails with Peggy's: there used to be Republicans and Democrats who worked together to get (certain) things done in Washington. Elected officials who recognized the necessity of compromise in cobbling together passable legislation. Today it seems there are fewer and fewer Republicans who show any interest in the business of governing--doing what they were elected to do.

Ann--It's difficult for the minority party to have a national theme in a non-presidential election cycle, but my sense is that the Republican positive theme is lower tax rates, better economy, more tax revenue, lower deficits. Hey, it worked for JFKand Ronald Reaganand GW Bushseems like a plan. In the interregnum, I think all they could do was try to control the runaway spending in the last 2 years (which is even worse than under Bush).

Who are politicians working for? My mind turns to this question from time to time. We would like to think that they are working for the people who elected them and for the common good. My aunt's was not an elected official, but I think that was the spirit in which she operated, as, I think, did Bob O'Rourke, the Republican precinct captain. Today that seems a naive assumption though there are certainly politicians who operate that way (I mentioned Lugar in the column; among Dems, Leahy and Durbin seem to be honest pols). Others? When they are not in the iron cage of lobbyists and industries, I often feel they are working for themselves. Nothing wrong with making a living, of course, but you have to wonder at the post-elective life of politicians (and by the way, military officers) who very quickly end up working for the people who lobbied them, or for the corporations that supplied military goods. Or am I being too cynical?

"JP: On your probity/gravitas meter. Can we agree that getting elected and actually governing require different talents, and not every president possesses boththough some do; about who we probably dont agree?"Yep.Thought fleeting by as I trudged out to the curb to haul in the recycling bins today: if you're familiar with the boyfriend/husband dichotomy of 'what-do-you-look-for-in-a-man' dicussions (not that I normally have those discussions, but I've got to read *something* in the dentist's waiting room): we want a president who is a boyfriend on the campaign trail, and a husband once s/he is in office.

Sean Hannaway: What's truly "priceless" is that white, upper-income Tea Partiers think themselves oppressed and beleaguered, and that they have enough fools lower down on the class scale to cater to their self-pity. (The "uppity" is a nice, faux-populist touch.) Grant: My remarks on "moderation" address precisely the "things done in Washington." I think Peggy and E. J. idealize "bi-partisanship." Obviously, people have to compromise both to "accomplish something" and avoid violence -- agreed. My worry and lament is that compromise itself gets elevated to the status of a principle. Look at how single-payer health care was never seriously considered, let alone rejected. There was never a serious discussion of health care options; the impulse was to find ways of accommodating corporate business. Who gave us the Rube Goldberg reform that we have? "Moderates" like Baucus, Nelson, etc. As far as "doing what they were elected to do," there's an argument to be made that Congress does precisely what they were elected to do. If they're not serious, it's either because the people who elected them aren't serious, or that Americans -- of both parties, I should add -- don't have any coherent sense of what the hell they want.

Margaret - how do we determine who is working for the common good - we can only make a judgment based on our own life experience and observing/listening to them - with all due respect, I get this sick feeling every time I see Durbin or Leahy - gete the same feeling about GW Bush and ObamPaul Ryan is interesting, probably because of his energy, intelligence and demeanor - looking to the past, I liked Eugene McCarthy and Ronald Reagan, two opposites. How do we figure this out!Eugene Mccarraher - Tea Partiers see liberals the way you see them - is there any issue they address that makes sense to you??? And why add the "white " Tea Partiers"??

hit it by accident - add the " a" to Obama and a dash after that

"President Obama: probity aplenty. Said to have considerable gravitas, but I dont think he projects it very well in his public appearances this is, I believe, a major reason that his speeches havent succeeded in moving public opinion."Jim P. --Probably right. I suspect that one reason his speeches don't hit home is because there are too many network, nationwide speeches. They've become routine events, so people don't pay too much attention to them. FDR spoke relatively rarely, but people hung on his words. He could also be a rather snarky, which Obama never is, and this is perhaps perceived as weakness rather than moderation. Obama just *looks* like plain bread. I don't think he actually is. Rather he is extremely patient and, contrary to initial appearances, he's rather conservative about economics. He wants to spread the wealth more equitably, but realizes that you can't change the direction of this economic system overnight.He finally seems to have learned that you don't invite the foxes in to police the foxholes. Summers had to go. But are there any rather conservative economists who are willing to police the financial institutions? That as I see it is the big problem right now. For instance, the administration has not forced the banks to lend more of that money we gave them, so job recovery has been slow.

Jim S. -- I added "white Tea Partiers" because, well, most of them are white. But that "white" is inseparable from "upper-income." A lot of whites are truly oppressed and downtrodden -- namely, white working-class people whose real wages have been stagnant since the 1970s. It's appalling to see and hear white upper-income Tea Partiers whine on about how tyrannized they are by Big Government, especially when they benefit from so many of Big Bad Leviathan's services. I don't see liberals as Tea Partiers see them. I'm a socialist -- liberals are basically centrists, in my view. (Equating liberalism with socialism is a sign of political illiteracy.) To the extent that liberals soften the sharp and rough edges of the capitalist system through regulation, re-distribution of wealth, social services, etc., God bless them. (I don't differ with liberals about bailing out Wall Street, by the way, as much as I hated watching it. What was the alternative? The complete collapse of the financial system?) But they do all those things, let's recall, because they want to maintain and expand the processes of accumulation. The Tea Partiers can't see that. They appear to want to return to some small-town form of capitalism that was definitely not, in my view, the Good Old Days. If the Tea Partiers who are angry about government bailouts of Wall Street want to prevent it from happening again, they're going to have to realize that the origins of that problem lie in the capitalist system itself, not in the machinations of secret Bolsheviks called liberals.

Eugene,You are proving my point.The arrogance of progressives seems to know no bounds. If regular folks disagree with their nostrums, which every truly intelligent person knows are good for them, they must be dupes, or blinded by irrational fear, or bigots or something else that isn't a rational human being making up his or her own mind.Grant,This idea of the Golden Age of Compromise, is exactly what a lot of the "tea partiers" reject. The Dems and the GOP got along because they were satisfying all of the same interests and rent seekers to retain power. They just swapped favors.

Ann: I thought Mr. Summers was a fox in the hen house! What next? A genetically fixed fox, twice as big and twice as foxy?

"30,000 people fired! Okay Jim P. Is that Catholic teaching?"I dunno - what does the church say about laying off workers? It can't ever be done? It must always be done? It's okay in some situations but not others? Is this one of those situations?Who were the workers - hourly-wage assembly plant and cube farm workers? Highly qualified engineers and professionals? Execs with golden parachutes? All of the above?If they were given severence packages and outplacement assistance, does that mitigate the company's culpability?Did anyone starve, or get foreclosed, or commit suicide, as a result?My observation of large-scale layoffs by Silicon Valley behemoths is that it is done in tandem with large-scale creation of new jobs in the developing world somewhere. That sounds like the kind of thing the church would applaud.It's not simple to analyze.

Serious Republicans? Now THAT is an oxymoron.

I understand Ms. Steinfels' intended point in using the anecdote of her old Chicago neighborhood - in other words, to illustrate the probity and gravitas lacking in the inchoate rage that seems to inhabit much of the political right today. But I wonder if it was an example that will recommend itself to those quarters. Conservatives might not be able to help but feel that Bob O'Rourke really *is* her beau ideal of Republicans: a rarity, and an ineffectual (however genial) rarity at that. Sean Hannaway's question about "Elks Club Republicans" was surely snark, but it's one a lot of conservatives might have.But I think we are all for more civility if we can come by it. It's not my place to wade in any deeper to this political discussion, but I would like to second Jim P's suggestion up above: "This is just one readers opinion/suggestion: these essentially political articles would be more valuable to me if they would explore more explicitly the religious, Catholic dimensions of some of the issues named, such as war and deficit spending." Straight up political commentary I can get by the spadeful everywhere on the net - I cant even seem to get away from it - but I think Commentary could serve a useful purpose by focusing more on the dimensions of Catholic teaching on all this if it is going to talk politics. Commonweal is certainly no stranger to that kind of analysis.

Typo: I meant "Commonweal," not Commentary. Quite a difference there!

Not sure what Catholic teaching might be on deficit spending (live within your means or give everything away to the poor?). But if the CHURCH ITSELF is any example, I sometimes wonder if they have even figured out double-entry book-keeping. Doe the CHURCH ITSELF know a deficit when it sees one?

Good heavens I grow weary of the talk of the "rage"and irrationality on the right.If you want to know what is behind a lot of the disgust and anger - not rage. It is exactly this attitude. These people who you deride are serious, but you choose to treat them as if they are not. That more than anything is causing the backlash that seems to have progressives soiling their undies.There is enough incivility going around on both sides. Civility requires that you listen to the other side. When you dismiss them a possessed by rage, or bigotry, or greed, you don't have to address their arguments. That, to me, is uncivil.

Margaret, I'm pretty sure it was a man of the church who invented double-entry bookkeeping :-). Or that's what they taught us in Accounting 201 at Water Towers Campus (aka the equivalent of Biology 101 on Lake Shore Campus - the 'weed-out' course!)

"Not sure what Catholic teaching might be on deficit spending (live within your means or give everything away to the poor?)."Catholic teaching is that God has ordained that humans be governed by legitimate governments. It seems a corollary that governments steward their treasure (which also, ultimately, belongs to God) wisely.

Double entry bookkeeping? Okay got me, who invented it? Not Thomas Aquinas. William of Occahm? A Medici? Catholics invent all sorts of wonderful things, but THE THE CHURCH doesn't always notice, or so it seems to me. Okay, I'm being silly.But deficit spending seems a necessity in governance as in business, does it not? Does that make it part of the "natural order" of things.... When the deficit rises because of unjust wars, I would guess that's another story.

He wants to spread the wealth more equitably, but realizes that you cant change the direction of this economic system overnight.Ann: What exactly is it that gives Obama the "right" to "spread the wealth more equitably"? Equitable by whose definition? (Otherwise known as, "Who gets to define "equitable"?) Although our socialist blogger Eugene Mccarraher would like Obama to "spread the wealth more equitably", the people who worked hard to produce that wealth might object. But of course, we can send them to reeducation camps to pesuade them of their errors...

Ms. S. ---Yes, there were some Catholic 16-17th century Dominicans and Jesuits who began in earnest to consider economic theory. The expansion of world trade seems to have been the impetus to such thinking.Check out the Wikipedia article on the School of Salamanca, the sections beginning with "antecedents".http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_of_SalamancaI don't know how accurate it is, but it's quite interesting. Even Peter Schumpeter, the great 20th century Austrian economist, read some of the people and was greatly influenced by them.

Bob Schwarz -It constantly amazes me how "the people who worked hard to produce that wealth" are content to let the wealthiest 2-5 percent of the population get a surreal proportion of the benefits of that production. I'm terrible with numbers, but as I remember some recent numbers something like 5 percent of Americans own 40 percent of the wealth of this country, and top managers now make something like 100-200 times the salaries of the little guys. This has got to be outrageously unfair. How do I know? Well, if you thought wealth and wages were fair 40 years ago, just compare them with the situation now -- the richest have become obscenely rich, but the little guys have gotten poorer. So either it was unfair 40 years ago when the little guys got more (which nobody seems to argue) or the richest now have a humongously unfair proportion of the wealth. This justifies -- no necessitates -- a re=distribution of wealth through taxation.YEs, there *are* a few people who deserve to be outlandish rich -- I mean, for example, the inventors who have given us huge labor saving devices at relatiively small cost, such as the Gateses and Jobses of this world. But they are extremely rare. They can have billions and billions as far as I care, and in fact I thank them for their efforts.But you tell me why a pencil pusher in Manhattan who happens to know Bayesian theory (which he didn't invent) is entitled to hundreds of millions of dollars a year pushing a ponzi scheme which is totally non-productive and just rips off people who bought houses in good faith because they trusted their much too friendly neighborhood banker? The recurrent theoretical problem is to figure out just what a just price is. The philosophers at Salamanca started to try to answer that back in the 15th century, but didn't get very far, and now it seems that the philosophers and even the economists have given up. Keynes tried, but abandoned the question. (Tell me -- why do so many middle class people hate Keynes? Is it because they stupidly think he's a socialist?? Why this love of the rich over the proper love of oneself?(I just don't get people who would rather be shafted than use their brains or who prefer blaming the politicians rather than the excessively rich who have bought the politicians' votes. Why do you blame the politicians but not the ones who bought them????

" Hey, it worked for JFKand Ronald Reaganand GW Bushseems like a plan."Mark P. ==What makes you think that condiitions are the same now as when JFK and Reagan were president? And what makes you think GW Bush was successful??Economic conditions vary as the factors that operate in them vary. For instance, when labor is plentiful and capital is scarce, then higher taxes very probably won't result in more jobs, but if capital becomes easily available, higher taxes could have an expansive effect in the job market, but only if the capitalists/corporations are willing to risk that capital. (I also wonder if there is a big different between money held by individual capitalists and money held by corporations -- whether their investment psychologies are more different than generally assumed.) Also, taxes on different sectors of the tax-paying public have different effects depending on how other factors stand.So you can't just say, 'It worked then, it will work now", That's not the nature of economic systems.

"(Equating liberalism with socialism is a sign of political illiteracy.)"Yay, McCarraraher! This is one of the most destructive myths current in our society.

Ms. S. --I'm not exactly sure what I meant by the fox and foxhole metaphor either. I think I meant that Summers is really a protector of the mine-is-absolutely-mine school of capitalism, so he's not the one to put in charge of policing similar capitalists. (I'm also not sure what a mine-is-absolutely-mine capitalist is either.) About eliminating jobs -- there's a saying that goes 'If nobody ever lost their jobs, we'd all still be digging potatoes'. Hmm. There's wisdom there, I think.

Not surprisingly, Wikipedia has a lengthy article on double-entry bookkeeping. It would have covered at least a week's worth of material in Accounting 201. In what is no doubt an insertion by someone who recalls President Obama's Cairo speech, it indicates that there is evidence that Muslim merchants utilized some form of double-entry bookkeeping back in the 12th century. The article also reports that "Luca Pacioli, a monk and collaborator of Leonardo da Vinci, first codified the system in a mathematics textbook of 1494. Pacioli is often called the "father of accounting" because he was the first to publish a detailed description of the double-entry system, thus enabling others to study and use it."Much more fascinating stuff (yes, I'm being ironic) on double-entry bookkeeping here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-entry_bookkeeping_systemAnd finally, let us give thanks that this conversation allows us to type the word "bookkeeping", which is notable for having three consecutive occurrences of double letters.

The Potato Diggers left those jobs for ditch digging in America...more dependable income.

There are more examples of the rich ($100 million dollars to Newark schools yesterday) spending their money for good than being greedy. There are more examples of those who are poor who need welfare and food stamps than those who rip off the government. With that said, the biggest Ponzi scheme is by the United States government (our leaders whom we elect) who steal from social security and everywhere else that has led to the coffers being trillions of dollars down. Our government is far more greedy than any private sector - the banks come close - but then again they were bailed out by the government - two peas in a pod.

Jim Pauwels - speaking of double bookkeeping, government statistics do not even show the withdrawals of money (which isn't there) from social security on its ledger; it only shows the invisible (money isn't there) deposits.

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