Monday, October 11, 2010

Political Truths

Here is a bit from a post by Robert Reich that goes after both political parties for twisting the truth to "punch up" their popularity before the country goes to the polls:
Republicans have a long history of turning fears into resentments that animate voters. (Remember Willy Horton? Senator Joe McCarthy?) For years, Fox News, yell radio, and other outlets of the Republican right have built followings on hatefulness.

Now that the Great Jobs Recession continues, they have more fertile ground. Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich are given megaphones by Fox News to bash immigrants and Muslims and to question the President’s patriotism.

Yet Democrats are entering the same terrain when they blame China. According to the New York Times, House speaker Nancy Pelosi has been encouraging Democratic candidates to go after China, after internal polls showed voters increasingly willing to blame China for our problems and strongly in favor of eliminating tax breaks for companies that do business in China.

Democrats must know high unemployment in America has little or nothing to do with China. Yes, China should allow the yuan to rise further against the dollar. But China’s under-valued currency isn’t the reason we’ve lost 15 million jobs since the end of 2007. No, the tax code shouldn’t reward companies for relocating jobs there. But this tax break is barely relevant to the situation we’re in.

Our jobs crisis is due to the collapse of demand in the U.S. after the housing bubble burst. No longer able to borrow against the rising value of their homes, the vast American middle and working class can no longer spend enough to keep the economy going.
Sadly the electorate never catches on that it is being used and abused by political manipulators. They use "hot button" topics to turn the electorate on and off like a tap. There is no intention to follow up. These "issues" are simply gambits, the "red meat" of politics, used to fire up voters and get them to the polls. The issue won't see the light of day until the next election when it may or may not be trotted out again depending on whether it is seen as effective to get the electorate riled up.

In short, the "political class" cynically use hot button issues to get the votes they want. These are "issues" they have no commitment to and usually privately abhor, but will use them to "get elected". This is demagoguery at its worst.

Robert Reich then goes into the real underlying cause of the malaise in the US:
It’s no mere coincidence that 1928 and 2007 marked historical high-water points for shares of national income going to the top 1 percent. Today’s median wage is now 5 percent lower than it was at the start of the decade, taking inflation into account, while top earners are doing better than ever. The core assets of most Americans are their homes, whose values are now 20 to 40 percent below what they were three years ago, while the key assets of America’s wealthy are shares of stocks and bonds, whose values have declined far less. The official rate of unemployment is 4.4 percent for college graduates but 10 percent for those with only high school degrees and almost 15 percent for high school dropouts.

I’m not suggesting Democrats blame the rich for their success. Most came by their high earnings and wealth honestly. And surely a vibrant economy requires that entrepreneurs be rewarded for hard work and valuable insight.

But Democrats should admit America’s economic structure has become dangerously unbalanced — more unbalanced than it’s been in 80 years — and the imbalance is making it difficult if not impossible for the nation to emerge from recession. For these reasons, Democrats should recommit themselves and the nation to redresssing that balance.
I don't see the political will to attack this problem. The last time the Great Depression and WWII helped flatten the society, rebuild it as a "middle class America". What can be done now to recover this golden era from the past?

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