Saturday, March 19, 2011

How’s the Big Picture?

There is so much going on in the world right now that it’s hard to know where to start. The fight with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has all but disappeared from the media. The fight isn’t over. You’re just not hearing about it. The battle for Libya has almost disappeared. Not quite, but almost -- as all eyes turn to Japan.

It hasn’t been a major theme of mine, here at Get the Flick, but some of you might remember that I’m not a fan of nuclear power. However, if we’re honest about viable options, we realize that Japan doesn’t have any good ones. I suspect there will be a reevaluation of actual costs when this immediate incident is over.

At the moment, I’m focusing on how the Japanese government is functioning -- with the concern (of course) of how our government functions. Would anybody like to contest the importance of the Japanese government at the moment? How vital it is that they have a good government? Private industry is neat and all but it isn’t a substitute for good government. Private industry isn’t going to house and feed the Japanese population in the immediate future. Take a look at these pictures and think about how important government is in comparison to private industry.

And that (believe it or not) brings me to Krugman. He’s been on a roll lately (and I haven’t) and there are some thoughts of his you should be following.

Mind-Changing Events

"And the reality of Japan’s liquidity trap showed that monetary policy can lose traction even without those kinds of currency and debt-denomination issues.

You could say that the Asian crisis made me more Keynesian — because it showed that 1930s-type problems could happen in the modern world, and that you could not, in fact, count on Uncle Alan or Uncle Ben to solve everything."

The Great Recession is our government’s test. And right now it is failing.

Heroes As Villains: The Case of Elizabeth Warren

”As Nocera points out, this attack needs to be seen in the context of the GOP attempt to undermine any and all financial reform. And the GOP has it in especially for anyone who got it right: since they’re trying to sell a narrative in which the financial crisis was somehow generated by too much government intervention, not too little, and the bankers were just helpless victims, they especially need to demonize the people who called the actual route to ruin as it was happening.

And it’s not just the Republicans: Warren has clearly faced a lot of hostility from within the administration, too. And as I see it, this also comes precisely because she was right: that gives her the kind of credibility that, in turn, makes her something of an independent force — which some people don’t like at all.”

Take it from me; being right doesn’t necessarily make you popular in government. Especially if being right proves a lot of important people wrong.

Millions of our citizens aren’t in shelters and in need of emergency food supplies. (Well, at least not on the scale and in the context of Japan’s disasters.) Our millions are unemployed. That is the challenge of our government. If private industry was going to fix it, it would already have done so. (Which is an absurd idea. It’s not their job to fix it. Which is why they aren’t even trying.) It’s our government’s job to fix it.

The Forgotten Millions

”More than three years after we entered the worst economic slump since the 1930s, a strange and disturbing thing has happened to our political discourse: Washington has lost interest in the unemployed.

Jobs do get mentioned now and then — and a few political figures, notably Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic leader in the House, are still trying to get some kind of action. But no jobs bills have been introduced in Congress, no job-creation plans have been advanced by the White House and all the policy focus seems to be on spending cuts.

So one-sixth of America’s workers — all those who can’t find any job or are stuck with part-time work when they want a full-time job — have, in effect, been abandoned.”

I don’t believe the government of Japan will abandon its people. I don’t believe its response will be perfect. I feel certain it will make mistakes. But I feel just as certain that it will more forward. It will help its people. The question is, why won’t yours?

Don Brown
March 19, 2011

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