Friday, August 13, 2010

Hey! But I Just Got Here

I was asking some friends last night for reading suggestions -- columns or blogs -- and Andrea recommended Thomas Frank’s column at The Wall Street Journal -- The Tilting Yard. Not many people recommend the The Wall Street Journal to me. It just goes to show you that you never know.

So, anyway, I look it up online, start reading, and this is the first thing I see;

”This is my last weekly column for the Wall Street Journal...”

Just my luck. I think I would have liked reading him. Especially after I looked him up. (I knew the name sounded familiar.)

”His book “What's the Matter with Kansas?”, published in 2004, earned him nationwide and international recognition.”

That was one of the first books I read after I retired. It was one of my first lessons on how people are manipulated into voting against their own economic interests. In short, it’s okay if you drive us into poverty -- just as long as you outlaw abortion. The book was published in 2004. Guess what? Abortion is still legal. After eight years of President Bush -- six of which the Republicans controlled everything. As to the economy...well, you know how that has gone.

Just to let you know, The Wall Street Journal will let you read the column once but if you go to reload it, they’ll block access until you “upgrade”. Hey, it’s their web site. I’m pretty sure you can read the comments at will though. And to be honest, I found that to be the most interesting thing about the experience. (No reflection on Mr. Frank’s writing intended.) The WSJ’s readers -- one is to suppose the captains and future captains of industry -- don’t seem to like Mr. Frank much. I can’t imagine why.

The Economic Crisis: Lessons Unlearned

”As the right howled "socialism," President Obama took pains to demonstrate his loyalty to the exhausted free-market faith. On trade issues and matters of economic staffing, he loudly signalled continuity with the discredited past. On the all-important issue of regulatory misbehavior—a natural for good-government types—he has done virtually nothing.

The real audacity has all been on the other side. Many Republicans chose to respond to the crisis not by renouncing the consensus faith of the last 30 years but by doubling down on it, calling for more deregulation, more war on government.

That they have partially succeeded with such a strategy in these years of financial crisis, mine disasters, and oil spills is testimony to their political brilliance—and to Democratic dysfunction. As is the burgeoning populist movement that now stands beside the GOP, transforming anger over unemployment into anger over the auto bailout and the good pensions enjoyed by public workers.”

I think I’ll keep an ear out for Mr. Frank. I wouldn’t mind reading more from him.

Beginning in December 2010, Frank will write the monthly "Easy Chair" column for Harper's Magazine.”

Don Brown
August 13, 2010

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