Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Sad New Reality in America

This bit from a post by Robert Reich on his blog hits the nail on the head:
The real message from voters was “Fix this stinking economy.” But Republicans have no intention of doing so.

With Republicans in control of the House, forget spending increases or tax cuts to stimulate the economy.

Republicans don’t believe in stimulating economies. They think markets eventually clear — once the pain is sufficient. Or in the immortal words of Herbert Hoover’s treasury secretary, millionaire industrialist Andrew Mellon: “Liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate the farmer, liquidate real estate. It will purge the rottenness out of the system. People will work harder, lead a more moral life.”

Of course, Mellon was dead wrong. Nothing was purged. Instead, the economy sunk into deeper and deeper depression.
Go read the full post to get the whole sad story.

Sadly, the ordinary American doesn't know enough about economics, and the politicians can't be bothered to explain issues in succinct terms and propose clear programs to fix the problems. So the US electorate went to the poles and vented their anger. But that's like getting mad at a neighbor and hauling off his busting his chops. That doesn't "fix" anything. It only makes things worse. American just sealed their doom with this election.

And... from another Robert Reich post on his blog, here is sound advice on what Obama should be doing:
Obama’s best hope of reelection will be to reframe the debate, making the central issue the power of big businesses and Wall Street to gain economic advantage at the expense of the rest of us. This is the Democratic playing field, and it’s more relevant today than at any time since the 1930s.

The top 1 percent of Americans, by income, is now taking home almost a quarter of all income, and accounting for almost 40 percent of all wealth. Meanwhile, large numbers of Americans are losing their homes because banks won’t let them reorganize their mortgages under bankruptcy. And corporations continue to lay off (and not rehire) even larger numbers.

With Republicans controlling more of Congress, their pending votes against extended unemployment benefits, jobs bills, and work programs will more sharply reveal whose side they’re on. Their attempt to extort extended tax cuts for the wealthy by threatening tax increases on the middle class will offer even more evidence. As will their refusal to disclose their sources of campaign funding.

The relevant political lesson isn’t Bill Clinton in 1996. It’s Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936.

By the election of 1936 the Great Depression was entering its eighth year. Roosevelt had already been President for four of them. Yet he won the biggest electoral victory since the start of the two-party system in the 1850s. How?

FDR shifted the debate from what he failed to accomplish to the irresponsibility of his opponents. Again and again he let the public know whose side he was on, and whose side they were on. Republicans stood for “business and financial monopoly, speculation, and reckless banking,” he said over and over.

And he made it clear they wanted to prevent him from helping ordinary Americans. “Never before have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today,” he thundered. “They are unanimous in their hate for me – and I welcome their hatred.”
Sadly, I saw no sign from Obama's press conference today that he "got it". That he understands anything of the above strategy. Why oh why can't Obama replace his idiot advisors with people with sound understanding of the situation and what is need? He needs Robert Reich, Paul Krugman, and Brad DeLong for starters.


thomas said...

I saw an interview last night.. wish I could link to it. Anyway, the point made there was that Obama needs to be an executive not a legislator..

I don't think that this election will be bad for us in the long run. I have thought for some time that we needed more time with republicans in office to lead us a little closer to the abyss, so the people could get a good look at where we would be headed. They keep saying that a prevented depression is just not proof of good strategy and other comments and points are made about it. The American people needed to see it just a little clearer and maybe even touch it; actually they needed a good feel for it. Then we need a leader like Roosevelt to take the lead and not rely on the good intentions of others to hold him up. This leader would have to stand on his hind legs on his own and own up to his responsibility and... be willing to face down our enemies.

I voted against a Democrat this time around.. not that it made any difference in this state; the reddest state in the union. I thought that the man who tried to save his job by voting on the other side should lose it. I didn't think he was working for the Democrats who elected him. I think Obama needs to work for the people who elected him and stop waiting for them to do it for him. I would urge him to be the leader that we expect him to be.

RYviewpoint said...


We are in agreement that Obama should stop "legislating" (finding compromise and making concessions) and start being an "executive" (stand up and point the direction forward and call on people to sacrifice and fight to get there).

I'm not so keen about "getting closer to the abyss" to teach a lesson. Think about your own kids. If they had been foolish enough to climb a ledge and were perilously close to falling, you wouldn't want them to tempt fate by tiptoeing even closer to the edge to "learn a lesson". You would be doing everything to get their attention, warning them back, trying to get hold of them, and "saving" them from themselves. But I feel your frustration. I fall prey to a "the hell with them!" emotional outrage from time to time. It is hard not to get crazy about the antics of your kids, and it is hard not to go crazy about the obtuseness of the electorate.

I thought you were in a part of Idaho -- Congressional House District #1 -- that was more Democratic than the other half of the state. But...

I did a little digging and found this:

Early in the campaign, Minnick earned an eyebrow-raising endorsement from the national Tea Party Express (the only Democrat to do so), only to reject it months later amid a controversy over racist blog posts by then-Tea Party leader Mark Williams.

I can see why you were motivated to throw the "blue dog" Minnick out.

I sure hope the Democrats "get religion" and focus on the economy. That's the only way they will win in 2012.

thomas said...

I didn't mean for us to get that close; I only wanted for people to get a good view of the depth of the hole that they were all to eager to jump off into. But, anyone should know the depth of the great depression, and how poor things were during that period. Still, living through it may be the only way for some to come to any appreciation of the depth of human suffering and economic setbacks that the nation as a whole suffered through.

On this subject; Paul Krugman writes this