Saturday, October 02, 2010

When weak policies are oversold...and what happens next...

Ezra Klein has written a good but not great post entitled "When good policies look bad." He tells us something important: The loans (bailout) to the bankers will all be paid back (most already are) and the government may make some interest money. That's good news. He also says the relatively small stimulus monies have created jobs, just not as many as the Obama folks predicted.

Still, I have said from the get-go that Obama was more preoccupied with protecting bankers than regular folks and the stimulus was too small. Obama's rhetoric, however, was that he was supposedly doing what people like me were calling for, i.e. a large stimulus package, and denying he was bailing out bankers more than regular folks. So when the economic results started coming in, i.e. higher unemployment than Obama believed, the corporate media machine played up the populist anger from the right more than left and...well, here we are.

People hear the competing rhetoric among the Property Party (Democratic and Republican Parties) leaders and mouthpieces and fill in their own assumptions and conclusions. They don't look for facts underneath the rhetoric. That's the way people tend to "analyze" things from time immemorial.

The takeaway for Obama is to understand that people wanted actual policies that matched the rhetoric. The populace wants the very things economic liberals tend to support (and a majority oppose expanding the war in Afghanistan), but leading Democratic Party leaders refuse to push these policies in any sustained manner.

That is what explains Obama's ratings going below 50%. It is not Obama's and Democratic Party's leaders' lurch to the "left," as pundits in the corporate media say (and who themselves live in a world of rhetoric and "perceptions" from their cocktail parties they attend), that is hurting Obama's poll ratings and depressing Democratic Party voter and union voter enthusiasm. It is the failure of Obama and Democratic Party leaders to even try to push for policies that match the rhetoric.

Obama, however, is incapable of being anything other than what he is: a banker with some culturally liberal guilt. Kind of like Herbert Hoover feeling bad for people, but feeling like he really can't do anything to improve people's lives. Because of that, Obama will continue to fail to convince the 50% plus of the electorate he needs as he sails toward a re-election campaign.

As I said a little over a year ago, all Obama has is: The Republicans are worse. And while that may still be enough for him and his fellow supine Democratic Party leaders in Congress, the question is how long our nation can continue to avoid the catastrophic consequences of Republicans coming back into full power...and how long our nation will endure if we do not reverse course, learn how to make what we buy and vice versa, and rebuild our infrastructure?

When my novel posited a civil war between workers with guns and the culturally liberal elite, except with most of the cultural liberals on the side of capital and the workers in unions, some people who read the novel were outraged and disgusted. They hated that ending. What is interesting is that smart folks like David Brin, a noted sci-fi writer and astrophysicist, is starting to call what we're going through now as the Third Phase of the US Civil War:

Anyone who thinks we are in anything less than phase three of the American Civil War is a complete ostrich.

I will never again let myself be lectured to, about patriotism, by men who fantasize about riding with Nathan Bedford Forest. When the McVeighs start rampaging, I hope we'll recognize Fort Sumter and remember Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. A noble man who served his country in all four corners of truth: government, academia, science and media, and who wore a color we are all going have to choose, if we want to save our country, again.

And here is Brin starting to sound, not his usual much more libertarian self:

One of the tricks mastered by the Murdochs (envision the Morlochs of HG Wells's The Time Machine!) is to create an impression of false equivalence. We are seeing this here in California. Every time GOP gubernatorial nominee Meg Whitman is accused of favoring never-ending tax largesse for the uber-rich, she responds by calling her opponent, former governor Jerry Brown, of being in the clutches of Big Unions.

It frustrates me that she is never given the ultimate rebuttal. "Even if this is true, the unions have been plummeting in power, for decades, while the super-rich have been skyrocketing. So which should we fear?" What social force, in fact, did nearly ALL of our ancestors fear? What group ever came close to oppressing liberty, open competition, social mobility or free markets, more than oligarchy? Whether they called themselves feudal lords or commie nomenklatura, or captains of the crony-CEO caste?

We older folk grew up in an America with the flattest social strata (for white males) in the history of the world, yet that did not prevent a vibrant capitalism! In contrast, over the last two decades, the fraction of the total national income going to the top 1% doubled; the fraction going to the top one tenth of a percent tripled; the fraction going to the top 1% of 1% quadrupled - and capitalism is floundering. Can anybody parse cause and effect here?

Do the Murdochs actually believe they can prevent the chivvied and harassed and cornered middle class from noticing this trend... forever? How about when this disparity doubles? And doubles again? And again? Is there a limit where the oligarchs will conceivably say "enough"? Any limit at all?

History doubts it. Insatiable oligarchies are unable to stop, even in their own long term self-interest. But don't take my word for it. Pick a random decade and continent. Try reading history.



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