Thursday, August 25, 2011

Personalize This

I don’t know if you’ve been keeping up with Krugman since he got back in the country but he’s been writing up a storm. There’s more to the world than Krugman’s blog...but he’s done it again. At least for me. And I bet for you.

That’s because I bet you have someone close to you that is unemployed. Or, at a minimum, underemployed. I want you to pick the person that is closest to you and personalize this big-picture message. Here’s Krugman:

Five Trillion Dollars

”2. The CBO also projects unemployment staying above 8 percent until late 2014 — again, with no clear explanation of why it should fall sharply in 2015. This translates into a human catastrophe for the long-term unemployed. It also says that there will be no good reason to raise interest rates for the foreseeable future.”

You see, that works for me but for some, all that just makes their eyes glaze over. So let’s personalize it. My son is going to graduate college this year. “Stephen, we can’t get you a job for three more years. You can come home and live until 2014. We’ll try to have something for you by then. I’m sorry Son, I know you want to get started on your life. But this is the best we can do. ”

Unemployed men queued outside a depression soup kitchen opened in Chicago by Al Capone, 02-1931 - NARA - 541927

Except, of course, it isn’t the best we can do. It’s just what we -- as a country -- have decided to do. As Krugman says;

”Surely it would have been worth making an extraordinary effort to avoid this outcome. In particular, an $800 billion stimulus, a significant fraction of which was stuff that would have happened anyway (like extending the patch on the alternative minimum tax) looks ludicrously underpowered. Yet policy has been timid and conventional.”

There are only two things missing -- two things we need -- to get out of this Great Recession.

Fdr delivers speech

Needed: Rooseveltian Resolve

Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United States in
1932 with the mandate to get the country out of the Depression. In the end,
the most effective actions he took were the same that Japan needs to take—- namely, rehabilitation of the banking system and devaluation of the currency to promote monetary easing. But Roosevelt’s specific policy actions were, I think, less important than his willingness to be aggressive and to experiment—-in short, to do whatever was necessary to get the country moving again. Many of his policies did not work as intended, but in the end FDR deserves great credit for having the courage to abandon failed paradigms and to do what needed to be done. ”

No, that wasn’t Krugman talking. Nor me. That was Ben Bernanke -- back before he was Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

(Now who do you think steered me towards that?)

But there is one other thing we need (and this is me doing the talking). We need you. We need you to be engaged. One of the reasons President Roosevelt was so effective was that he had the support of the people. President Obama needs the same. And just in case you think FDR had it easy, read this .pdf file.

” The Court-packing scheme of early 1937 nullified any postelection
honeymoon in Washington, if not across the country. It was followed by a legislative proposal to strengthen the presidency that appeared to
confirm Republicans’ charges that Roosevelt was preparing to install himself as a dictator. At about the same time, the economic recovery stalled and the “Roosevelt recession” began. Finally, Roosevelt’s failed effort to purge anti-New Deal congressional Democrats in the 1938 midterm election emboldened critics within his own party to launch a “no third term” movement for the 1940 Democratic nominating convention.”

I don’t think even today’s Republicans have accused Obama of trying to become a dictator. (Yeah, I knew that had to be wrong just as soon as I typed it.)

Call your Senators. Call your Congressman. Email them. Send letters. Send a fax. Keep it simple if you’d like. Jobs, jobs, jobs. And write the President. Tell him the same thing. Americans need jobs. And when he announces his plan, write him and tell him you’ll support him. It’s either that or you need to explain to your unemployed son/friend/relative that we’re doing our best -- even when you know we’re not.

Don Brown
August 25, 2011

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