Thursday, November 20, 2008

Remember: This is Not Happening

"New claims for unemployment benefits jumped last week to a 16-year high," according to the Times and other news outlets. The stock value of Goldman Sachs (the people who gave us Henry Paulson, Robert Rubin, and the bailout) has dropped below its IPO price — ten years of increases gone. "The index of leading U.S. economic indicators fell in October for the third time in four months as stocks and consumer confidence plunged, signaling a deepening recession." So reports Bloomberg.

"The U.S. may need to spend as much as $1.2 trillion to stabilize the eight largest financial institutions because private investors are unwilling to take the risk, an FBR Capital Markets analyst said." (Bloomberg) One point two TRILLION for EIGHT firms. Four thousand dollars for every man, woman and child in the US.

One TRILLION for the war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Two TRILLION for extended bailouts domestically.

And not one penny of direct help for three hundred million Americans.

But conservatives like John McCain, Amity Shlaes, and others believe "fundamentals are strong". Now I'm a broken record on the conservatives, but there is a more general point here.

So are moderates — especially the broad spectrum of the Democratic Party — any better?

Barack Obama and the incoming Congress show little real sign of the 'great awareness' that they are credited with. Obama is packing his cabinet and his staff of advisors with exactly the people who created this disaster and then denied it was happening.

More important, largely absent from government are people who know what it is like to hear the wolves at the door. Barack Obama's adult life has been one of considerable privilege. So too for very nearly every person within 100 yards of him. So too for very nearly every member of Congress. So too for very nearly every person at the Times or the Wall Street Journal or CNN or the Harvard Business School.

In other words, the people taking charge of the solution show neither sympathy for nor experience of the most dire problems they must address. This is true to of healthcare, military policy, pensions, and on and on and on.

How can people who are entirely insulated from, immunized against the consequences of terrible policy feel invested in a good solution? To the solve the problems we face, the problem solvers must be more interested in a genuine solution than in getting re-elected, being popular, or lining their own pockets. With choices like Rahm Emanuel and Hillary Clinton, I have growing doubts about Obama. And with the likes of Nancy Pelosi or Joseph Lieberman holding leadership positions in Congress, I have no hope at all that Congress will do anything, even with a Democratic majority.

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