LK here. A few days ago I received a missive from “Oscar the Observer”, once an employer of mine, who I’m now honored to call a mentor. The man is no liberal Mr. Softee; he believes in a hard day’s work for a good day’s pay, but he also believes that every citizen should be given the tools to be able to compete for that hard day’s work.
I don’t agree with every last word in his piece, although we disagree more on how to get where we’re going than the destination itself. And his final paragraph re Afghanistan and our inability to change a culture, and particularly its abhorrent attitude towards women, is something I’m resigned to as well.
Other than that, his innate optimism is in full regalia, as is his belief in the “can do” spirit of America, a belief nurtured as a child of the depression and WWII. Killjoy that I can be, I wrote back that he continually frustrates me by retaining the belief that ethical, objective, even-handed thought is worth anything more than a rat’s ass in today’s irrevocably corrupt world, and that additionally, cynicism is the new reality.
Here’s his response:
Yes, to an extent, cynicism is the new reality ——- but my view is that distortion is more the new reality.
It amazes me, as cynical as I am about American intellect, that Republicans have succeeded so emphatically by their self-serving ignorance that has resulted in such gullibility by Americans, and especially the “independents” and blue dog Dems. Everything the Republicans have promoted and pontificated about is completely wrong and adverse to pulling out of this recession. And their ignorance has resonated as “moderation” with too many Americans.
I majored in Economics in college. In the 1950’s, I was studying Economics in the midst of the “Eisenhower Recession” and consequently a lot of attention was given to the parallels of the Depression (the 1930’s) and the fits and starts of Roosevelt’s administration to overcome the worldwide recession and depression, which finally ended by deficit financing without limits to finance our and our allies’ armies and navies for World War II. A large part of that financing came in the form of War Bonds that Americans bought to aid the war effort, and those debt instruments were paid off after the war in an economy that was on the upswing. The Republican morons in Congress, who control and influence their party as if it were Stalin’s Russia, seem to me to be completely ignorant of Economics, and blind to the factors such as the “circular flow of money,” confusing “pump priming” (Keynes and Galbraith) as being antithetical to reducing “waste.” Congress threw a crimp into Roosevelt’s programs in 1938 by cutting off a lot of money (out of panic that our national debt was out of control), and that resulted in a double dip to the recession until we started to get ready for war, in 1940, and began manufacturing for the Lend-Lease program.
I am in favor of the broad aspects of the Simpson-Bowles plan. We need to try it to see if it works and see if it can hold down long-term debt without crippling current economic policy to overcome the recession. (We also need to energize American corporations and industry to begin manufacturing things here that are unnecessarily manufactured in China —– the same “patriotic” mindset that resulted in buying War Bonds instead of just putting money in the bank is needed to be brought to bear in a constant and emphatic ”Make It In America” campaign. Why the hell is almost every tool in Sears made in China? We must reduce our tendency to manufacture in China and bring our balance of payments back to realistic levels. We have to eliminate our knee-jerk reaction to have everything manufactured in China that neuters our industrial ability and idles our labor force; American workers earning salaries in factories and in vertically integrated businesses that result from increased industrial productivity enables more workers here to buy products and keep the circular flow of money chugging along.)
I point out that Paul Krugman, the first day that the Obama Administration proposed the $700,000,000,000 stimulus package, went on record forcefully, writing that it would be insufficient, that at least $1,200,000,000,ooo or $1,300,000,000,000 was necessary to stimulate the economy enough. He said $700,000,000,000 was only a start, and should not be regarded as the limit. He was right. Here’s the evidence: Bernanke will throw $600,000,000,000 more into the economy over a short period of time.
And before we let the Congressional morons who are devoid of understanding economics and history pull the wool over Americas eyes further until we are completely blind, let’s remember that Bernanke, as a Princeton professor, came to prominence through his study and analysis of the Great Depression; he knows that constricting the economy and abandoning deficit financing prolongs the economic malaise and paralysis.
The Republicans resisted and tried to prevent the stimulus package. They were stupid, still stuck in Herbert Hooverville. At the core of their interference with support for programs and legislation that will get more money into the economy that will drive the circular flow of money is their plan to reduce the stimulus package by making Obama use the unspent stimulus money for continuation of unemployment benefits, etc. Okay. So, instead of selling out on the Bush tax breaks, Obama should spend the money from the stimulus package for the unemployment extension —— and Bernanke can just increase his, in effect, “additional stimulus package” by the amount deducted from the $700,000,000,000, if need be.
One last thing: Until we get out of Afghanistan, there will continue to be a pervasive, crippling drain on our economy and weakening of America politically and in world affairs . It’s time to say “Sayonara” to Karzai and let him be executed by the Taliban. I believe we can preserve our safety and deal with Afghanistan as a haven for Al Qaeda by bombing Afghanistan whenever necessary. They’ll get the message that it’s safer just to terrorize Afghanis than to establish Al Qaeda training camps. It seems clear to me that we will never, never be able to overcome the culture of corruption in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Somalia and Sudan. No matter what we do we cannot protect women from domination by Islamic mores in those countries. It’s unfortunate, but if we can’t deal with reality we are condemning ourselves to constant failure.