The Times has an interesting article this morning on the conflict between the Japanese concept of lifetime employment and the whole Milton Friedman "Shareholder value is not the most important thing, it's the only thing!" approach. The UAW had negotiated a similar package for its members in the 50s and while it cost money, it did keep the social fabric in places like Detroit and Flint and Gary and other places devastated by the goat rodeo that was the auto industry in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s. As that program was downsized and ultimately eliminated by through contract negotiations, bad situations got worse. Similar approaches were used by other firms, including professional firms, where "excess" engineers, planners, business managers and so on would be assigned to social programs or to nonprofits to help the recipient organizations cope with their challenges. I assume the corporation was able to write off that time on taxes as a charitable contribution, although I do not know. It certainly showed community involvement and was effective PR.
Ayn Rand and Vlad Lenin, Kim Il Sung and Barry Goldwater, Barack Obama and Rand Paul, Francois Mitterand and Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and Fidel Castro, Friedich von Hayek and Leo Trotsky, Alain Badiou and Augusto Pinochet, for all I know, disagreed on several matters. But they agreed on this, or said they did, or have been represented as saying they did, even if they acted entriely incompatibly with it: the state was a force that was historically pitted against private capital. To reduce one was to increase the other and to increase one was to reduce the other. They vary inversely and the balance between them that you recommend constitutes the fundamental way of characterizing your political position. From an anti-authoritarian, anti-statist, or anarchist point of view, this spectrum stretches from authoritarianism on the one end to authoritarianism on the other, with authoritarianism in between. It makes anything that is not that incomprehensible. It narrows all alternatives to variations on hierarchy, structures of inequality, or profoundly unjust distributions of power/wealth. And also as a single ideology, it is merely false. Massively, quite obviously false; throughout the last five centuries, economic and political hierarchies have been massively mutually reinforcing. This is not to say that in some local moment the balance could really shift according to some left or right political progam; it is meant to point out that the choice is extremely constructed and incoherent.
as anselm argued, that is a vocal performance than which no greater can be conceived in soul music, proof of the existence of god. it's dynamic, baby.
that's - yes! - little beaver and willie clarke doing everything from b.b. to shaft.
one way to construe the left-right spectrum is as state vs capital. but this distinction is a single ideology shared by ayn rand and vald lenin. look and see: they are not distinct and you will not be pulling them apart.
Both left and right accepted an ideological framework in which state and capital were opposed; indeed to a large extent the left-right spectrum just is this idea. And yet as soon as this opposition is questioned empirically with regard to any particular fundamental development in practical political economy, it disintegrates. Panitch and Gindin adduce also the world financial crisis of 2007-2008, which was created in part by the American government's support for home ownership and the development of financial instruments based on them. Of course the American government and those of other nations, as well as international coalitions of bankers and officials massively infused the specific private financial concerns with cash in repsonse to the crisis. The United States government purchased and then re-sold domestic car manufacturers.
The interlocked histories of the corporation and state war machines, for example Krup to Germany or Halliburton to the USA must on any account be regarded as fundamental to the nature and growth of both the modern state and the modern corporation.
State repression of striking workers, for example the severe outbreak in the US in the 1890s, or the less violent outbreaks in Thatcher's Great Britain or Reagan's United States, is a tried and true tradition. State regulation of business concerns increases barriers to entry into the market and hence helps consolidate markets in established hands. This effect increases exponentially when the regulators are themselves essentially representatives of those very firms, who after all are the only ones who understand their segment of the market, and the health of which depends on their activity.The way the FCC has actually imposed corporate oligarchy on communications is entirely typical; in the public interest and so on they auctioned off and licensed first radio and then televion frequencies, and now cellular bandwidth made the networks possible, and for some time most Americans had perhaps four sources of information, all basically purveying the same interpretation of the world. The state enforced copyright laws in such a way as to limit publishing or the dissemination of music to a few large corporations. But it did the same with the railroads and mineral rights in the 19th century, for example, leading directly to the great American personal fortunes of that period. By the 1890s the American economy was being bailed out by J.P. Morgan, a gesture which it has repaid to the financial sector many times, and in response to which the idea of a central or national bank was expanded to include unidorm regulation of currency under the Federal Reserve. These mechanisms for mutual stabilization of state and capital were refined and internationalized throughout the twentieth century and still have their little drawbacks at times. One effect of a state that conceives itself and which is conceived by the population primarily as a distributor of benefits is that it stabilizes the supply and demand or manufacturing, sales, and consumption, by, for example, giving many people a certain amount to spend evry week or month. Consumption can be increased by increasing such benefts, for example in a slump with regard to unemployment benefits; this assures retailers, for example, of a certain minimal level of sales. To look at state and corporate interests as opposed in these dimensions is distorting.
The main historical point I want to make is this: the rise of capitalism is not explicable without state power, which has increased throughout the capitalist period. The modern state and capitalism have the same origins, or arose together, or really - simplifying slightly - are one thing. In many economic histories, the rise of capitalism is atributed fundamentally to colonialism, and state/corporate hybrids such as East India companies have appeared continuously in myriad variations. They are appearing still. The idea that free markets are historically distinguished from - or even are the very opposite of - large, powerful government is a completely ahistorical ideology, shared by the capitalist right and the communist left. In this regard and in a number of others, we might think of the left-right spectrum as a single ideology rather than as a taxonomy of opposites. Thus, the left-right or Democrat/Republican splits, which define American politics as a hyper-repetitive, mechanical set of partisan bromides about free markets and positive government programs with egalitarian results, depend on a historical mistake. It is one so obvious that it is actually hard to see how anyone, much less everyone, made it. Indeed, the entire history of capitalism is utterly bound up with the configuration of the state, and I do not believe that capital accumulations on the vast scales it has achieved are possible in the absence, for example, of pervasive domestic policing and the ability to project military power. The idea that you get to something like the British colonial economy - one capitalist apogee - without a state, is obviously absurd. The American robber-baron period is often held to have been to have led to hyper-concentration of wealth in a few private hands and to have been constrained ultimately by the state. I think that if you looked at the actual procedures employed by a Vanderbilt, a Rockefeller, a Carnegie, you would see that they depended fundamentally on state sponsorship and state violence, which such men were in a position to command in virtue of their wealth. That this underwent various adjustments for various reasons in the so-called Progressive era does not indicate that at that point state and capital went their separate ways, putting it mildly. And if this oscillation toward state over corporate power (sort of perhaps her and there) increased equality, I would like to see the evidence.
Many leftists hold that we live in an era of 'late' or 'global' capitalism. As they gear up to equip the state with ever more power to regulate economies (their proposed solution), redistribute wealth, and so on, they are simultaneously aware that all of these developments depend fundamentally on state power, sometimes in multi-state configurations: on central banks and currencies, for example; on the projection of military force to secure resources. This is central to the left critique of our situation, but to conclude from it that we need to funnel more resources and powers to the state and create programs that make many more people much more dependent on it is bizarre. If one thought a bit more carefully, for example, about the way that government energy policies and private energy concerns are interlocked, one would get less and less sense of any distinction. American democracy, or American politicians, depend on corporate cash, and any president who really tried to move decisively in other direction would be vitiating the economy and dooming his presidency. Just to say the obvious: regulators and corporate lobbyists and Congressional staffers are all the same people. You could go Soviet, but the most you do is sort of get rid of some of the lobbyists: you just hand your banking system and energy sector to state bureaucrats, who three minutes after that are the wealthiest people in the country, with the power to break you by raising their eyebrow.
Little Crispy's Big Law (LCBL): hierarchies tend to coincide.
Corollary: resources flow toward political power, and political power flows toward resources.
Economic power coincides with political power. This is not because economic power constitutes political power, any more than the other way round. So say you were looking for a political solution to your economic inequalities. Well, constituting the state as controller of the economy, or beefing up its mechanisms to redistribute wealth on a fairer basis is - apparent appearances to the contrary - liable in the long run to have the opposite efect. The more state control of the economy you have, other things being equal, the more entrenched and extreme the economic hierarchy. Putting it mildly, the left is confused about this. And also it is not subject to information: it does not matter what actually happens anywhere: the left will still demand intensified political hierarchy in order to pursue economic equality.
In fact, whatever hierarchies there are will tend in the long run to coincide. As a practical matter, if you recommend any hierarchy, whether of experts, races, capitalists, the Party, etc etc, you are in reality recommending hierarchy in every dimension. So, if a hierarchy of education or expertise is important in your society, then resources and political power will flow toward experts. Same with a hierarchy of beauty or athletic prowess or race or gender, or whatever it may be. But the fundamental dimensions are economic and political. I'd say it's obvious that LCBL is roughly true, and everyone knows it to be true. A white-suprematist polity in which black people were wealthier than white people, for example, would be extremely surprising. It would be no less surprising if there were no regulatory capture, for example. You could keep trying to institute reforms to pull economic and political power apart: I wonder what it would take empirically to show you that this was counter-productive. It's counter-productive because when you beef up the state to control capital, you only succesed in making capital more monolithic, more concentrated, and more able to exercise a wide variety of powers.
as i have said for so long, the one thing that everyone agrees on is that we should spend more through infinite deficits. or rather, everyone agrees about this except 'tea party republicans.' essentially we are almost reaching the point at which there are two parties: boehner/obama/macconnell/biden democratic-republicans, and the tea party. now, with regard to this issue at least, you should not listen to all the continual 'extremists,' 'hostage-takers,' 'ideologues,' and so on: they are the only force in any opposition to the ever-growing state and they had to jump ship here. they really are conscience-bound to fight on the debt ceiling, and i think they should. as soon as you hear terms like 'extremists,' invoked at once by everyone, your ears should prick up; it's obviously mere propaganda, yes? and really stop to consider the argument that we never really argued about the debt ceiling before. so what? it's never been now before. or maybe that was a mistake and people should have been focusing on that all along. anyway, the arguments need to be better than mere manipulative strategies.
now of course one might also point out that a good percentage of these tea party republicans are much more committed to tax cutting or no tax increases than to controlling the deficit, so their net contribution is less than zero anyway. if deficits and debt could ever get you concerned under any circumstances, you should be concerned now.
squishy totalitarianism: the political/economic/aesthetic/psychological system or syndrome shared in common, for instance, by contemporary china, the european union, and the united states. it is characterized by a complex so-called 'technocratic' merger of state and capital; large-scale mechanisms of subject-formation such as compulsory state education and regulation/monopoly ownership of the media; a relative tolerance for some forms of diffuse dissent and scope for individual choice, particularly in consumption, combined with pervasive state and corporate surveillance; overwhelming police and military force and sprawling systems of incarceration; entrenched extreme hierarchies of wealth and expertise (plausibly declared by such authorities as spode to be the purpose of squishy totalitarianism); regulation of the economy by monetary policy in cooperation with banking concerns; an international regime of national sovereignty combined with international state/corporate mechanisms for the circulation of wealth.
hopeful note: st is no more difficult to resist than any other 'system'; every expansion opens up new interstices.
since supposedly democratic policies benefit 'white working-class voters,' and such voters often go republican, one concludes that they are voting against their own interests, which is supposedly irrational. so, they must be manipulated by right-wing monsters. now here are some assumptions packed into this: one's self-interest is exhausted by maximum cash. and people do, or ought to, vote in their own self-interest as they understand it. (never mind the incredibly impoverished conception of rationality.)
i am a white man. if i voted my own self-interest, i might well vote for the most extreme racist and sexist available. hard to blame me for that if you're attacking people as irrational for failing to vote their self-interest. even now, i actually do benefit from the structural racism and sexism of our culture; obviously, i should devote my vote to preserving these come what may. folks like me didn't find jim crow at all inconvenient; i don't even know what people were complaining about; we might try that shit again. say feminists are right and the republican war on women represents men's obsession with controlling women's bodies. well hard to argue that we don't benefit, among other things economically, from such control. it would be irrational for me not to support all such measures.
evidently, the key reasoning strategy of nobel-prize winners is amazingly direct: from any premises whatever, your pet conclusion follows. no matter what the data, it always shows that government should be larger and more active. krugman, i have to say, is merely obsessed: he just desperately wants to be subordinated: he thinks about nothing else day or night: nothing else actually matters.
so as i understand the argument, it's that if you agree that consumption drives the economy, and if you agree that certain governmental activities increase consumption, then you are rationally obliged to agree that such activities should go forward in a slump like this one. er. look: the inference is wildly fallacious. here's a parallel argument: consumption drives economic activity. requiring every american citizen to spend 50% of their savings on amazon this weeekend would increase consumption. so you're rationally obliged etc.
possibly any measures you take will have other effects than sheer stimlation. well assessing those effects - oh, you know, doubling the deficit - might be sort of important i assessing what you want to do.
i have to say that it is roughly impossible to know whether the national debt is something real and whether it is a serious problem. or at least, i have a hard time trying to tell. you still have left people starting with krugman calling for more - perhaps much much more - government spending, right now. and it's the right time to borrow, because interest rates are low. so let me ask you this: is there a level of debt that is really unsustainable? or is the debt a kind of abstract thing; gov debt is not much like household debt, and so on. because if there is a level of debt that has worse effects on the economy than 'austerity' i would like to know where it is. so say that the debt was 30 trillion. what effects would that actually have? or is it all kind of just moving markers around with no real concrete effects on anything?
i think in some ways it comes down to different ontologies of money or accounts of what it is, in particular at this stage of its development. so: it's this stuff that the government creates from nothing, more or less, but it embodies or represents wealth. or it is wealth. so, money i think for krugman types is in a way a simulacrum without original; it's a baudrillardian or pomo theory of money. in a way, the economy of a country takes place to a large extent on an imaginary level. there is no reason that money should be tied to anything concrete, or there need be no close relation between what the economy produces concretely and the wealth in the form of money it generates. the federal reserve can invent wealth and put it into the economy. then people will be able to borrow money, hire people, etc. it doesn't mater what, if anything, is produced on the other side, or at least the relation between the money and what is produced on the other side isn't direct: they don't vary together. it's the post-modern idea: the representation creates the reality.
on the other side you have people who take a mimetic view of money: it has to represent, be engaged directly with, concrete sources of value and exchange like commodities or materials or labor. you can't in the long term have a money supply that is wildly disproportionate to the concrete economy. the gold standard people want to impose a mimetic money, to reconcretize money or display it in its character as a representation of an underlying reality.
now one thing to say to any leftists who have any sympathy with marx: he always brought everything back to the actual material conditions of production: that was economic reality, and the fictions conjured around it were things to be seen through.
i personally intuit a mimetic view; i think this idea of spending yourself out of a recession becomes absurd after a certain point, and we have certainly dug ourselves quite the hole. the further disconnected fiscal policy or the money supply becomes from the actual production of the economy, the more you court an extraordinary collapse in which the fiction is horribly revealed. however, i am sincere in saying that i can't necessarily defend this intuition, certainly probably not against an expert.
meanwhile, i want you to think about the fact that all economists who in general favor a robust state role take up one position on this, and all who in general favor a small government role favor the other. i suggest that liberal economists think it's empirically true that deficit spending is nbasically not a problem and is the right apporach to a recession because they think the state should be bigger, and conservative economists think that government debt is disastrous because they think the state should be smaller. now there is no justificatory connection from the normative positions on the size of the state to the empirical claims about the effects of deficits. so either this is a massive coincidence, or really the empirical evidence is not doing any of the work. (the implication works the other way: if deficit spending really doesn't have bad effects etc then money is such-and-such. that is not the direction in which these folks are making the inference.)
what you and i and krugman should start by asking ourselves on something like this if we're going to have any intellectual integrity is: what do i want to believe; what, with regard to this particular matter, would it serve my purposes to believe? then insofar as this material is extraneous to anything that could be regarded as actual evidence, i've got to try to compensate for that in generating an opinion.
chris hedges introduces a piece in salon on oxycontin in coal-mining country as follows: "During the two years Joe Sacco and I reported from the poorest pockets of the United States, areas that have been sacrificed before the altar of unfettered and unregulated capitalism," etc. let's say the rest of the piece doesn't really support this diagnosis:
About half of those living in McDowell County depend on some kind of relief check such as Social Security, Disability, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, retirement benefits, and unemployment to survive. They live on the margins, check to check, expecting no improvement in their lives and seeing none. The most common billboards along the roads are for law firms that file disability claims and seek state and federal payments. “Disability and Injury Lawyers,” reads one. It promises to handle “Social Security. Car Wrecks. Veterans. Workers’ Comp.” The 800 number ends in COMP.
Harry M. Caudill, in his monumental 1963 book Night Comes to the Cumberlands, describes how relief checks became a kind of bribe for the rural poor in Appalachia. The decimated region was the pilot project for outside government assistance, which had issued the first food stamps in 1961 to a household of fifteen in Paynesville, West Virginia. “Welfarism” began to be practiced, as Caudill wrote, “on a scale unequalled elsewhere in America and scarcely surpassed anywhere in the world.” Government “handouts,” he observed, were “speedily recognized as a lode from which dollars could be mined more easily than from any coal seam.”
Obtaining the monthly “handout” became an art form. People were reduced to what Caudill called “the tragic status of ‘symptom hunters.’ If they could find enough symptoms of illness, they might convince the physicians they were ‘sick enough to draw’… to indicate such a disability as incapacitating the men from working. Then his children, as public charges, could draw enough money to feed the family.”
now i suppose you could regard the capitalism as the prob. or you could regard the problem as not enough capitalism. or you could regard the problem as precisely these government programs, which have dominated the economy of the area for decades without curing its difficulties. or you could represent the problem as insufficiently elaborate welfare-type programs, despite the fact that he describes the area as having been subjected to the some of the most elaborate welfare programs in the history of the world. anyway, before you feed everything into your socialist interpretive machine, you might want to think about the information you are yourelf developing.
watching up with chris hayes, to which i'm kind of addicted. hayes is extremely bright. at any rate, they had the average-person interview with a woman whose family used to make 100k but now subsists on unemployment, food stamps, and student loans. they introduced her with a clip of ryan saying that an economy ("the obama economy") with expanding social programs like those encourages dependency and is "demeaning." we have to create a ladder of opportunity in the private economy so people can take care of themselves. ok our woman on the street starts in with "that is ridiculous!" she portrays the result of the election as a matter literally of life and death to her family. (damn the addition of ryan has really gotten people focused, even if overwrought.) then she says: we hate these programs. we hate the fact that we're dependent on these programs. we have a plan to get off of these programs. really, i have to say, she confirmed ryan's basic point. then the panel is like: of course no one wants to be on these programs. in other words, they are still stigmatized by the left. you know, you might survey people who are recipients of these programs about how they view them, both in general and in detail: what is it like negotiating the bureaucracies that control your benefits? and how vulnerable do you feel to the programs and bureaucrats who run them? how do you feel about yourself as a recipient? this is an odd question: but to what extent do you feel yourself to be fully a citizen of the united states? then we've got to start trying to conceive alternatives. we're frozen in this duality where it's only more or less govt spending.
now perhaps i lost a bit of credibility when i described sarah palin at her introduction as 'the best politician ever" and predicted a mccain victory. but at any rate, obviously ryan has energized the romney campaign; people actually came voluntarily to see them at rallies over the weekend. and i think that the entitlement stuff is liable to cut a little closer to even than people think. the tea party initially was galvanized by deficits and debt, blaming both parties. people care about it, for whatever reason. i think it sells pretty well to seniors, using the trope of 'mortgaging our children's future' etc. and it's worth noting that few things in ryan's plan actually affect anyone's existing benefits; he's not taking away your medicare. (now, whether ryan's plan actually reduces the debt quickly enough, or whether doing it all with cuts takes it with sufficient seriousness is another matter.) at any rate, i think even in the swing states ryan's liable to be a wash at worst.
it's easy to forget that this idea of generations and their personalities is just a trope. human beings reproduce according to human estrous cycle or, over a population, more or less continuously, rather than all at once every twenty years. admittedly, that would be fun. also if you think you're going to sell 'entitlement reform is our pearl harbor,' you can go ahead and give it a shot: i was bored with it before you formulated it. no! our pearl harbor is climate change. education. childhood obesity! as long as it ends in thermonuclear annihilation, i am down.
With apologies to Kafka, George C Scott and Solzhenitsyn, Crusader AXE must clarify that I do not begrudge Ann Romney her horse. I begrudge her husband the right to pretend that there's no difference betwen her service horses and the baby doll an old woman clutches in a filthy rest home...Since that sort of blindness is endemic to Romney and his party, I begrudge them their fucking existence...and now, it's personal.
paul krugman is just the worst sort of partisan hack. the stuff on bain with which the piece begins was literally written by david axelrod for a commercial. maybe they award nobels these days for thinking more like the people around you than anyone else does, if that's possible. at any rate, give krugman any premises, any information, any statistics, any situation, any fact-pattern and he reaches the same conclusion: we must increase the size and scope of state power. it's less empirical than medieval theology, which it also resembles in its yearning for subordination to the will of another.
i believe if i were voting tomorrow in greece, i'd vote for syriza, the left party that might end up taking greece out of the euro. first of all, i'd certainly want fresh young faces. second, even if there's more pain in this direction, i'd be thinking that my country needs some sort of return to self-determination, instead of being a tributary state to germany. you know there is a lot to be said against political consolidation and centralization, and the bigger the political/economic unit, the further any piece in it is from freedom or democracy, for example. the greeks are in a situation in which they essentially have no input into the decisions that affect their lives; but that's true in various dimensions of all of us who live in a modern mega-state. this is why the idea of world institutions - banks or environmental regimes, for example - gives me the willies. honestly, once you give up the fiction that the institutions are all of us, you see that every actual person loses any sort of autonomy; that distant bureaucracies into which no single person can have much input control the environment of every single person. indeed it's gotten to the point that whole nations have no inout: a kind of post-colonialism. this is why you should think about what 'progress' means for actual human beings. your own currency might not be worth much, but it might be a sign that you intend to run your own life.
here's the kind of political writing i admire. i have probably ragged on dana milbank from time to time. but this is the sort of thing that actually gives people credibility: i believe he will vote for obama. but he can see - and more, actually write - that obama is not at all serious about debt reduction. this is obvious, and maybe you think he shouldn't be. on the other hand, he throws it in all the time. he even sold his healthcare package as a deficit-reduction program, which i don't believe was plausible or sincere. what is good about milbank's piece is that he doesn't let the factual beliefs flow effortlesslessly from the political ideology. no fact has ever failed to conform to the ideology of krugman or frank rich; e.g. when you're in a prosperous stage, then you can afford to increase the scope and size of government programs. and when you're in a slowdown, the only solution is to increase the scope and size of government, etc,
The heart of darkness in Murdoch's Britain has been the incestuous relationship between private and public power: more specifically, between money and politics.
i wonder how many centuries or millennia of the coincidence of money and political power would suffice to make the left see that the state is itself a hierarchy and that - more or less always - it coincides with and exacerbates other hierarchies, in particular wealth. well, it's a faith, not an empirical position i suppose. the solution is to just keep beefing up the apparatus performing the oppressions you repudiate. maybe it'll work out this time.
paul v krugman! 'Krugman, meanwhile, described Paul as "living in the world that was 150 years ago."' the idea that some people live in the past and others live in the future is one of the most bizarre artifacts of 'progressivism.' and then, it's bad to live in the past, and good to live in the future, i suppose. but before we defended this wacky claim, we'd have to make sense of the whole wacky physics in which you can pick a year or an epoch and live in it. while many people moved on to may this morning, i stayed behind in april. i feel so retarded. krugman, of course, comes back to us twice a week from 2525, where - like will smith or tom cruise - he walks a post-apocalyptic cgi wasteland or an ecstatic totalitarian cgi paradise: hard to tell really cause it's now and you can't see krugman from here.
this austerity thing is interesting. so no doubt in some respects cutting government spending exacerbates an economic slowdown. that seems obvious: cut the post office budget, they lay off workers who collect unemployment, stop consuming much of anything, etc. then cut their benefits and they really don't consume and require a variety of other services, and so forth., krugman makes this argument every week. now on the other hand you have to ask yourself, what levels of debt are actually unsustainable or themselves have disastrous effects (like, now 50% of your budget is interest payments, which you can't spend on stimulus or programs to help the newly-huge needy). or, people just will not lend you money anymore and then your forced into truly draconian austerity mode. you could reach the point at which it is simply impossible to continue almost anything the government does. i have to say, any given person's position on this depends on whether they're right or left. left=government can solve all our problems, and i don't think krugman would ever acknowledge a level of debt in a recession to be unsustainable; he might wave in that direction, but when push comes to shove, he thought greece was doing just fine until germany started demanding budget cuts, and that the whole thing would have worked out. if you're a right-winger (unlike me, i declare) or an anti-statist (like me), then you think it will turn out differently, because you want it to turn out differently: you'll take any lever to reduce state power, and believe more or less anything that would support you in that project. i can't unveil the objective facts. all i can do is note that people's empirical claims are predictable from the political philosophy which they held long before the current problems, which is plenty to provisionally discredit both sides. that a given level of debt at this time and place is unsustainable is a question to which all the machinery of right-wing or left-wing thinking developed previously is irrelevant. it's an empirical question.