Monday, July 04, 2011

A Bit of Intellectual Honesty

I cannot tell a lie. At least not well enough to be believed. I’m not even good at obscuring the truth. Oh well. It has brought me this far and I see no reason to change.

A couple of days ago I skimmed over an uncomfortable fact. On reflection it’s a fact of such consequence that I think it deserves more than skimming over it. Here’s the pertinent text:

”So, we could have had a $3 trillion economic stimulus and put a few million Americans back to work -- almost 2 years ago. The economy and the credit markets would have supported it. But we didn’t believe it was politically possible. In other words, the Obama Administration couldn’t get the Republicans to vote for it.

You are going to see this theme again. It has happened again on this very day.”

The “it” that happened was in President Obama’s weekly radio address. I skimmed over it by just providing a link to Krugman’s take on it. It was one of many links in the blog and I realize that most people don’t have the time to follow them all. In short, this subject deserved a blog of its own. So let’s get down to it.

Barack Herbert Hoover Obama

”(President Obama said: ) “Government has to start living within its means, just like families do. We have to cut the spending we can’t afford so we can put the economy on sounder footing, and give our businesses the confidence they need to grow and create jobs.”

Yep, the false government-family equivalence, the myth of expansionary austerity, and the confidence fairy, all in just two sentences”

If you follow my blog (or Krugman’s) you know that this is worse than a political concession to Republicans -- it’s bad economics. At least I believe it’s bad economics. Some people think it makes sense. The point is that I don’t and it’s a big deal when the President of the United States seems to agree with it.

This is ugly. But just because it’s ugly doesn’t mean I get to skim over it. Perhaps President Obama knows that I -- and people like me -- are stuck with him and this is just a political calculation. I’m not voting Republican in the next election (probably not for the next 10 elections) but others might. As always, it’s the middle that has to be swung and perhaps this “moderate” language will sway them.

A better way to sway them would be to put people back to work. Cutting spending right now won’t do that. Loosening business regulations even more (“confidence” is just a euphemism for no new taxes and no new regulations) won’t do it either. And as long as Republicans are intent on proving that government can’t -- government won’t. Unless a real leader steps up and stirs up the American people. The American people can do anything. They’ve been proving that for 235 years. They can even boss their politicians around when they get stirred up.

Don Brown
July 4, 2011

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