San Francisco's political spectrum: a primer


During yesterday's post-election wrap-up at the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, political consultant and analyst David Latterman cited the ideological breakdown of San Francisco voters: 19 percent are progressive, 36 percent are liberal, 39 percent are “moderate,” and 6 percent are conservative. I cited those figures in a post I wrote yesterday on the latest election results, and some people responded by asking me to explain those terms, so let me take a crack at that because I think it's important to understanding the city's political dynamics.

I even discussed the matter with Latterman – who self-identifies as moderate, whereas I and the Guardian have a progressive worldview. “That's a fantastic question and I don't think any of us can give suitable answers,” Latterman said. “These aren't hard lines. It's like: I don't know how to define pornography, but I know it when I see it.” Nonetheless, we agreed on the basic outlines and borders between the labels, even though we might frame them and value them a little differently.

In San Francisco, there is general agreement on most social issues among the moderates, liberals, and progressives, although we may disagree on political tactics. We all basically support gay rights, reproductive freedom, the value of diversity, environmentalism, and freedom of expression. That's why most people consider San Francisco to be a famously liberal city, because of our tolerance on social issues, which only that 6 percent who are conservatives don't share.

Yet San Francisco is still a deeply divided city on economic issues, including land use and the role of government. This is where most of the political conflicts and divisions occur, and it is here where our political spectrum is as wide as anywhere – perhaps even wider given the extreme wealth and poverty here, as well as the long history of political activism and the setting of national political trends. And it is in this realm that our labels come from.

A “moderate” in San Francisco – which is a real misnomer despite its widespread usage – is a fiscal conservative: anti-tax, anti-regulation, an almost religious faith in the free market, and a resentment of the poor (particularly the homeless and the jobless) and those who advocate for them. They want bare minimal government and see the role of government as primarily to facilitate economic activity in the private sector and to provide the basic infrastructure that the private sector needs to operate efficiently. They even believe social services should be provided by the private sector, such as nonprofits, rather than by government. On economic issues, they're almost indistinguishable from conservatives, with whom they disagree on social issues.

On the other end of the spectrum are the progressives, who don't trust capitalists and large corporations and believe they need to be heavily regulated and taxed to provide for the common good. We believe in progressive taxation and a redistribution of wealth, particularly from the richest 1 percent, and that government has an important role to play in leveling the economic playing field and playing referee. Progressives generally believe this country has been drifting to the right for at least the last 31 years and that this is a dangerous trend that needs to be addressed with fundamental, systemic reforms. And at this point, we're willing to adopt radical strategies for triggering that change, such as Occupy Wall Street or other forms of civil disobedience.

The liberals of San Francisco are somewhere in the middle. They're Democrats (or DTS) who don't believe in radical change or anything that might disrupt the existing order, preferring incremental reforms over long period of time. They accept the legitimacy of the two-party political system and an economic system governed by Wall Street and powerful corporations, and they believe we need to do what we can within that framework. They use neoliberal economic policies like business tax cuts and incentives to encourage private sector job creation and housing development, and they accept a shrinking public sector, which they expect to operate more like the private sector, and a waning labor movement.

The reactions to the OccupySF movement is an interesting illustration of the dividing lines. Moderates have voiced tepid support for the movement's critique of the growing gap between rich and poor, but they're appalled at the tactic of occupation, believing curfew and anti-camping laws are more important. Progressives have been the most enthusiastic supporters of a movement that echoes their core values and physically challenges the status quo. Liberals basically support the movement, but they've been very uneasy with the tactic of occupation and have been vacillating on how to deal with it.

Latterman and the moderates – as well as many liberals – see ideology as a dirty word, and he was happy that in this election “it was the least ideological race we've seen in a long time.” Mayor Ed Lee and Board President David Chiu – both of whom hover in the liberal to moderate range, depending on the issue – also treat the notion of ideology with disdain, claiming to support practical, pragmatic, or common sense solutions to problems.

But progressives see ideology as the essence of politics. They understand the world in terms of class struggle, and believe that the very rich have been aggressively exploiting the people and the planet for too long, and that the only real way to make progress is to fight them and win. They believe in the Occupy paradigm that the 1 percent – the greedy rich who have corrupted our political and economic systems – are actively hostile to the interests of the 99 percent. We know that's an unsustainable system and we're hopeful that this is the moment when progress – the core of our belief system, that it's possible to devise better economic and political systems than the ones we've inherited – could finally be attainable if we continue to organize and challenge the system.

That's my general analysis of San Francisco's political dynamics. What's yours?


Most SF voters are "moderate" but that doesn't mean tax-hating religious bigots in the manner you deride them. Rather they are fairly mainstream Democrats who vote for moderate Mayors like Newsom and Lee. They are the clear majority - maybe 60% - and in the end they reject extremes whether left or right.

Then you have varying degrees of people to the left of that, and in fact about 10% of SF'ers are Republicans.

One other wrinkle. A lot of those moderates are liberal on social matters like abortion, but they are surprisingly concervative when it comes to being pro-business, pro-investment and pro-jobs. This is the crucial majority of voters that Avalos ignored to his detrminant.

As Obama learned nationally, the way a liberal gets power is to become a moderate, because most voters are always in the middle.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

Your 60% moderate figure is simply not valid when we take into account that conservative and corporate forces, in every single election, spend millions, and sometimes even tens of millions of dollars manipulating the voters to believe that they are voting for 'progressive' measures and candidates, when in reality they are not.

If it weren't for that conservative and corporate money, the Downtown pro-developer 'moderates' (actually 'free market' neo-liberals and neo-cons) would never win anything because their views are in fact in the minority.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

You are speculating about a world very different from the one we live in.

There's no way you can prove that's true.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 3:15 pm

I never called moderates religious bigots, instead I said just the opposite, that they basically agree with liberals and progressives on social issues. And I agree with you that most San Francisco voters are willing to go along with the neoliberal economic policies of people like Newsom and Lee, but this is where the battleground lies, particulary given we have an unsustainable economic system based on cheap fossil fuel, deficit spending, a series of economic bubbles, and exploitition of natural and human resources. It's a reality that most Americans don't want to face, but it's a reality nonetheless.

Posted by steven on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 3:14 pm

clearly stated that the number one issue was jobs and the economy. And Avalos was always weak on that issue. So he lost.

Avalos might have been strong on some other issues, but voters quite simply didn't care about those issues enough to make a difference.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

Avalos' real estate transfer tax was brilliant. "The vision thing."

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 3:38 pm

Avalos got the local hiring ordinance passed and so was actually stronger than Lee on jobs; the latter who talks a lot about jobs, but in reality hasn't done anything to bring a strong local jobs boom to the city.

The most obvious case of Lee's absence on jobs is his not taking the lead on the local construction and installation component of the CleanPowerSF program to help it get underway. This local buildout of clean energy and efficiency under CleanPowerSF would bring San Francisco to 50% local clean energy by the end of this decade, and create 4,000 jobs a year for at least the next several years, and probably much longer as renewable energy buildouts continue. 1,000 of those jobs yearly would be direct building trades work.

And yet, Lee hasn't lifted a finger to end the now four and a half year delay on this local buildout, which would bring a green jobs boom to San Francisco, and establish this city as a global leader in fighting the climate crisis.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

Avalos got the local hiring ordinance passed and so was actually stronger than Lee on jobs; the latter who talks a lot about jobs, but in reality hasn't done anything to bring a strong local jobs boom to the city.

The most obvious case of Lee's absence on jobs is his not taking the lead on the local construction and installation component of the CleanPowerSF program to help it get underway. This local buildout of clean energy and efficiency under CleanPowerSF would bring San Francisco to 50% local clean energy by the end of this decade, and create 4,000 jobs a year for at least the next several years, and probably much longer as renewable energy buildouts continue. 1,000 of those jobs yearly would be direct building trades work.

And yet, Lee hasn't lifted a finger to end the now four and a half year delay on this local buildout, which would bring a green jobs boom to San Francisco, and establish this city as a global leader in fighting the climate crisis.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 4:16 pm

green fluff jobs paying nothing.

IT, Finance, RE, Comms, Biotech, Big Oil and Pharma

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 4:32 pm

We are talking about installing solar panels, roofing, new H-VAC systems, building efficiency installations, windows, solar water heat, smart grids, etc. These are all high paying, prevailing wage, union jobs.

So, you clearly don't know what you are talking about. How about keeping your smart ass mouth shut until you do...

Posted by Eric Brooks on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 5:14 pm

The best jobs are all non-union eg Apple, Google, Goldman etc.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

IT would do well to become unionized.

That "good jobs" are not unionized is simply an admission of failure on the part of unions to make a good case or for workers to realize their own best interest in collective bargaining.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2011 @ 11:53 am

If you are above average, then collective bargaining can constrain your success. That's why top professions and businesses are non-union. Did Steve Jobs need a union? Does anyone at Apple? Of course not.

Unions are helpful if you're unskilled and low-paid, but only at a cost to the business that employs you. Which is why union membership has been declining for decades. They're largely seen as irrelevant to most Amercians outside a handful of legacy occupations.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 12, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

It seems that since the 80's a progressive being a progressive has taken on more meaning. It now means a set narrow agenda.

While being moderate, or even liberal, means you can pick and choose your way through things.

One of the reasons progressives are not going to gain more ground anytime soon is that they are so narrow in their belief structure.


Who wants to associate with this crazy tweaker?!

Posted by guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

I am an economic conservative and yet I self identify as progressive. There is nothing about the economic beliefs you identified, the dominance and hostility of the 1%, the conviction that the system is unstable, that the planet is being ruthlessly exploited and destroyed, that is in conflict with classical, conservative accounting.

According to economists going back to the invisible hand, the reason we have free enterprise, open markets, capitalism, business, is because it provides the greatest good. If these mechanisms no longer provide for the greatest good, most sane accountants and economists would say it is time to find out whatever it is that does the greatest good and pursue that.

Only the most extreme, conflicted, or ignorant voters truly believe we should have capitalism, or any 'ism" for its own sake.

If an alternative to capitalism provides the most good, whether rent control, or an expanded public sector, or local hire, or municipal banks, then those alternatives are worth pursuing and advocating and fighting for against the selfish, the ignorant, the too comfortable, and the willfully blind.

Speaking of which, how bout that Italy ha ha ha!!! SUckerxzzzzz////

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

I don't understand why you consider yourself a conservative (perhaps you could explain, particularly given what seems to be an openness to new ideas), but since you cite the "invisible hand," it's worth noting that Adam Smith clearly believed that markets require government regulation to properly function and he would have been appalled that economic conservatives use his name and theories to justify a sort of law-of-the-jungle social Darwinism that Smith neither advocated nor supported.

Posted by steven on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 3:07 pm

There is a difference between being a conservative and being a criminal. A conservative believes in as much freedom as possible, and thinks investment banks are great and should be allowed to pursue legal investment strategies for wealthy clients and accept failure along with success.

A criminal believes investment banks can purchase legislators, leverage up 40 to 1, cash out before the collapse, accept trillions in bailouts, demand free government insurance, and blame it all on the communists.

For example.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 3:20 pm

I support abortion and gay marriage.

But I also want low taxes and spending cuts.

I'm not alone.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

have a cross section of beliefs.

I want the government to leave me alone, as Jefferson said if it "doesn’t pick my pocket or break my leg. It doesn’t matter." So progressives are odd because they makes these claims about personal freedom and then pass laws about where you can buy certain things. It takes real serious doctrinaire reasoning to be a progressive and still claim to be concerned with personal liberty.

90% of the people in SF would have been liberal democrats in 1960. Today they are called conservative or moderate, for having a varied set of beliefs that are not doctrinaire.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

As a native lifelong resident I identify myself the way you say. To survive in SF all these years I have lightened up on the Ideologies and surfed the practical for years before most of our from out of state elected folks even came to SF to actualize their dream agendas. Tolerance and Ideology often do not mix.
San Francisco, I believe, would be in a better state today if many of my fellow natives had not moved away or died years ago. We used to be a City that knew how and was every visitors favorite place. We did this by getting along and loving each other. Not that way today with more than half our city officials and officers living here less than fifteen years. Where did these folks leave their hearts?

Posted by Guest 51 on Mar. 28, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

Thanks for reminding us that they can be different, Guest. I've known many principled conservatives over the years, people who I don't always agree with but whose views I respect even if we disagree. But they've long since been pushed to the margins by those who simply oppose taxation and who see poverty as a character flaw rather than a natural byproduct of the system they advocate. In fact, it's a view held by many so-called moderates right here in SF.

Posted by steven on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 5:08 pm

i.e. as knee-jerk, tax, borrow and spend junkies who hate business and want ever more regulation.

Both sides can throw out cliches. What we want and need is more serious debate and less name and label calling from both sides.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

Milton Friedman was among the most conservative of economists and I quote him because as a resident of San Francisco, he would have been appalled by people like Rob Conway hijacking this election.

"Viewed as a means to the end of political freedom, economic arrangements are important becuase of their effect on the concentration or dispersion of power. The kind of economic organization that provides economic freedom directly, namely, competitive capitalism, also promotes political freedom because it separates economic power from political power and in this way enables the one to offset the other."

-- Capitalism and Freedom chapter one, The Relation between Economic Freedom and Political Freedom

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 12:08 pm

From my vantage point, the main difference between Newsom moderates and Gonzalez progressives came down mainly to rent control and development issues.

Over time the progressives were proven correct, but the real estate criminals are undeterred by things like honesty, proper planning, the common good, and prefer to condo-ize and evict and laugh themselves all the way to the bank. Until it all goes up in flames. Which it just might. Thanks real estate criminals.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

To me the difference between the Ed Lee faction and the John Avalos faction boils down to a strategy for jobs.

Avalos believes in local hire and municipal banks, and in mitigating the effects of the banking criminals through reasonable government interventions such as rent control.

Ed Lee seems to believe anything his handlers tell him, such as the hope for jobs and a future for SF rests in the hands of companies like Twitter and Zynga. Much like Newsom and his real estate flippers, Ed Lee seems most comfortable with conmen and a$$holes:

"‎"In a presentation at Startup@Berkeley in the spring of 2009, Zynga co-founder and CEO Mark Pincus has admitted that Zynga's initial revenue model depended on tricking users to sign up for promotional offers by its advertising partners in exchange for in-game perks. Zynga would sponsor these promotional offers oftentimes knowing it was a scam, charging the user hidden fees once the user entered their credit card information. Another example of these scam deals is requiring the user to download and install a toolbar that was purposely very hard to uninstall and effectively acted as adware/spyware on the user's computer."

Zynga, Inc. | Private Company Financial Research |

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 3:03 pm

But Avalos quite simply didn't have a credible pro-business strategy. In fact, he came across as hating private enterprise.

For all that SFBG whined about the Twitter tax break, most voters were cool with it. That's the crucial dilemma for the left. How do you maintain your minority principles and actually get voted into power?

Obama and Clinton got it. Avalos wasn't even close - he didn't even try.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 3:32 pm

I am still in shock that not only is an open scam like Zynga trying to IPO $2 billion dollars by Christmas, but actually got the Board of Supervisors to grant them a giant tax break to do it.

Ed Lee and David Chiu and Jane Kim and Randy Shaw are totally on a different wave length.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

The problem with the City trying to be a high-tax location is that there are three other counties within ten miles that think otherwise..

Money walks real easily if you try and confiscate it.

Posted by Anonymous on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

And thus corporations game the system, pitting cities against one another in a race to the bottom that starves the public sector of needed resources. All the more reason for a world-class city like San Francisco to hold the line and refuse to compete with Mountain View and Burlingame for corporate crumbs. We need to stand proud and tell these companies that there's a cost to doing business here, but many benefits as well.

Posted by steven on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 5:13 pm

If you're a company, you choose a location based on how appealing it is. You choose SF over, say, San Jose, if you think the benefits out-weight the disadvantages.

SF has no "right" to a given number of businesses. It has to earn them.

Or, to take your view, if you don't care whether they stay or leave, then let them leave, and suggest ways to replenish the erosion of the tax base.

Everyone has a price.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 5:24 pm

Various members of the professional welfare class go to where the picking's are the best.

Thus bankrupting the states and municipalities that offer the best services, and offer the best rain, and sunny day stats.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 12:55 am

Twitter played SF; they almost certainly would not have left, and probably had already made the decision to stay before even making the first threat to leave. It's a classic strategy, and it works almost every time. If you're going to leave, you leave. You don't threaten. If you're actually planning to stay, a pretty good strategy is to enlist Techcrunch to do your media bidding, and watch as local politicians fall over themselves to keep you from running away to ever-alluring Brisbane (*cough*).

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2011 @ 5:25 pm

Steven this is one of the more reasonable articles I have read of yours, one that allows us to agree to disagree. I am interested in your thoughts on the differences between the progressive "redistribution" of wealth and important role of the government, versus a Marxist or communist ideology. Where does the line get drawn? Do we no longer have small or midsize businesses seeking to make a profit? Are we all to be "equalized" by the government hand? Seems like horse trading to me, becuase no government or apparatchik is truly altruistic.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

Thanks, I think. When it comes to redistributing wealth, we don't even need to get into Marxist analysis of class conflict (although it is a useful frame of reference), all we need to do is look at our own history. The manipulations of the tax code that made it far less progressive and redistributive are a very recent phenomenon, just the last few decades. And it was during that same time period that we saw a far greater concentration of wealth in the top 1 percent -- the recent Congressional Budget Office study on this explains it quite clearly -- and that is hurting all the rest us, particularly the middle and lower classes. That's the obvious, immediate problem that needs to be addressed.

You've also identified another important problem and that is how the current economic system has hurt small and medium sized businesses, which are at a competitive disadvantage to large corporations with their economies of scale and ability to influence the political system to tweak the rules in their favor. The government role isn't to make everyone equal, but it does need to establish a baseline from which we can fairly compete (and a floor so that nobody is forced to live in extreme poverty, which is bad for society as a whole) and a system of rules so that big corporations don't crush smaller competitors, which they will if given the opportunity, using whatever means they can muster.

From my perspective as a progressive, I've been astounded at the faith-based economics that people to my right believe in, as if markets are magic and taxes make everyone want to just stay home and smoke pot. It's such utter bullshit but so widely believed in this country. Markets are like games, they need clear rules and those rules can be tweaked to achieve outcomes that are better for society. As long we have fair systems for creating those rules and everyone knows what they are going in, great, let's have a competition and may the best parties prevail.

Very few people want a bare subsistence living, so people will always work to get ahead, even if the tax rates were double what they are today. Consider that in the '50s, a period of great economic prosperity in this country -- one in which fortunes were made, there were important innovations, and the modern middle class was created and expanded -- the tax rate for every dollar individuals made over $1 million was 90 percent. How much money do rich people really need anyway? How many generations of their ancestors really deserve lives of wealth and ease while the rest of us struggle harder and harder? It's time to regain our senses and tax the rich.

Posted by steven on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

Europe it it's business and tax culture?

And, if so, do you find it ironic that 235 years after we rejected that, you now seek to re-establish those values?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 5:51 pm

The notion that the American revolution had anything to do with modern European welfare states is laughable at best.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 7:48 pm

Europe in terms of higher tax and more regulation?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 8:42 pm

This isn't about ideology. This is about doing what works from a practical perspective.

I look at Europe and I see people with longer lives and better access to healthcare, more free time and vacation, less hours worked per week, childcare, free education, worker protections, better unemployment benefits, great public transportation, more freedom, less crime, less incarceration...

Forget labels. Forget ideology. If the right-wing capitalism produced good standards of living than maybe I'd be a right-wing capitalist. But it doesn't. The European way seems to work better, so why not try a little of that here?

And this, btw, is exactly what I mean when I talk about the rhetoric of "ideology." I'm talking about "getting things done" in a way that makes people's lives better. The center right clings dogmatically to a failed ideology for the sake of ideology, refusing to consider anything else, even when that ideology doesn't produce results. So tell me now, who is more "ideological," progressives, or the so-called "moderates?"

Posted by Greg on Nov. 10, 2011 @ 9:15 pm

Is all of that costs money.

Northern Europe -V- southern Europe as an example. Watch in real time as the dream states of Greece, Spain, and Southern Italy go begging to the northern states of Europe.

Our progressives are closer to southern Europeans. They like to state that Ca. is a giver state around taxes, which is true, which has zero to do with any job they have ever had.

To make a European socialist system start to work will make the gregs of the world scream at the top of their lungs. If the USA closed the borders and started to implement health care for actual citizens he would be crying like a baby, which is the only way that that would work. The USA can not afford the schemes of the entitled and their dreams of a northern European welfare state. Fact.

Progressives, they live in another world and tantrum when reality refuses to take head.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 1:41 am

The collapse of "Europe" has nothing to do with progressive economics and everything to do with real estate fraud.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

It's the collapse of the more progressive states.

If you look at Greece it's the progressive dream economy.

High taxes (that no one pays)
A gigantic government class with a massive sense of entitlement
a second world economy
A northern European welfare state

All key ingredients to progressive thought.

Add to that the wanting to drive down wages and drive up unemployment with open borders and the progressive are worse.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

you have no idea about greece. wages in greece are low. gov expenditures (as % of GDP) are lower than many other european countries.
the relative number of gov employees is lower than in france or scandinavia.
the problem was with tax evasion (something that mostly rich greeks do) and greek industry devastated by german import goods and the following piling up of huge trade deficits. it was the structure of the monetary union that pushed greece into bankruptcy, not its (meagre) welfare services.
if you want to see a real welfare state check out sweden, denmark or holland. their debt level is low, have no fiscal crisis and the unemployment rate is around 5% or less even today. a healthy, super-educated population (the average Dutch or Dane speaking 2 or 3 foreign languages fluently) that lives longer, no homelessness, low crime, safe and clean cities etc.
and even these countries are not as rich as the us in per capita terms, so the us could very well afford a higher level of social spending or a national health care system. the latter would actually save a lot of money.

Posted by mike on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

I'm glad you agree with me.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 1:38 pm

Bank fraud Matlock so stfu.

Goldman Sachs Shorted Greek Debt After It Arranged Those Shady Swaps

"Goldman Sachs arranged swaps that effectively allowed Greece to borrow 1 billion Euros without adding to its official public debt. While it arranged the swaps, Goldman also sought to buy insurance on Greek debt and engage in other trades to protect itself against the risk of a default on those swaps. Eventually, Goldman sold the swaps to the national bank of Greece.

Despite its role in creating swaps that may have allowed the Greek government to mask its growing debts, Goldman has no net exposure to a default on Greek debt, a person familiar with the matter says..."

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

that the Greek government was involved in that?

You people keep making my point, Greece is a mismanaged mess. No one pays taxes and everyone expects things from the government. The took part in Enron like deals and now the piper has shown up. In this case they are in collusion with banks to extend the stupidity and its all the banks fault?

If there is some legal issue here I hope they all go to jail, and I hope for once the Greek people blame the people who caused their problems and stop voting for the person that promises the most unrealistic non sense.

Why is expecting a government to live within it's means such a hard concept for you people, it's always some external force that stops the gravy train that you were promised when you voted.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 2:32 pm

"The machine that enabled Greece to borrow and spend at will was analogous to the machine created to launder the credit of the American subprime borrower – and the role of the American investment banker in the machine was the same."

10 Economic Lessons From Michael Lewis' Boomerang

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

Stuff it Matlock.

U.S. housing collapse spreads overseas

"DUBLIN — The collapse of the housing bubble in the United States is mutating into a global phenomenon, with real estate prices down from the Irish countryside and the Spanish coast to Baltic seaports and even in parts of northern India.

This synchronized global slowdown, which has become increasingly stark in recent months, is hobbling economic growth worldwide, affecting not just homes, but also jobs.

In Ireland, Spain, Britain and elsewhere, housing markets that soared over the past decade are falling back to earth. Experts predict that some countries, like Ireland, will face an even more wrenching adjustment than the United States, with the possibility that the downturn could turn into wholesale collapse.

To some extent, the world's problems are a result of American contagion. As home financing and credit tighten in response to the crisis that began in the U.S. subprime market, analysts worry that other countries could suffer the mortgage defaults and foreclosures that have afflicted California, Florida and other states..."

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 2:03 pm

that conservatives make is that Reagan brought down the USSR, oddly that means they think that the USSR had a viable economy and could have kept going.

Here in SF the powers that be said that we could go on handing out benefits to city employees and it would be free forever based on ridiculous expectations.

Your link says that these property values were over valued.

"In Ireland, Spain, Britain and elsewhere, housing markets that soared over the past decade are falling back to earth."

You should post things that help your position.

Posted by matlock on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 2:24 pm

Don't know why I think this is so funny right now....

"Newsom also earned a real estate license."

Gavin Newsom - Wikipedia

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 2:59 pm

i'm european. where do you get this crap that europe is "socialist"? at this moment you have right-wing governments in almost every EU country. believe me there's no socialism in countries like the UK or france or whatever.
a certain amount of redistribution is not socialism. socialism means public ownership of the means of production (industries and services). businesses are privately owned in europe, the state does not run productive industries.

"Watch in real time as the dream states of Greece, Spain, and Southern Italy go begging to the northern states of Europe."
i am not sure what's your point here. the southern states have a way lower redistribution level and smaller welfare states, than the successful northern states (denmark, holland, germany, austria, scandinavia). so if anything it seems a larger welfare state makes you more efficient economically, or at any rate does not preclude you from being more efficient.
but basically the EU crisis has nothing to do with that. it has to do with the fact that countries with widely differing productivity levels were "locked" into a monetary union without a federal government (like the us federal gov) and without a real central bank that can issue bonds. to make things work, the southern states entered by an overvalued own currency-to-euro rate, whereas germany (the industrial superpower of the EU) entered with an undervalued DM. the whole process was controlled by the Germans (the ECB is in Frankfurt, duh), and the aim was to get new markets for german industry and banks. this worked out, but a little bit too well, you might say.
trade deficits, indebtedness of the southern states and in the end their virtual bankruptcy was the inevitable outcome.
again, all of this has nothing to do with socialism, as Germany is more "socialist" than the countries it suffocated with its industrial and financial might.

Posted by mike on Nov. 11, 2011 @ 1:12 pm