As I watch the end of the year shows and the media losing sight of reality I thought maybe I could inject some sober thoughts into the forecasts for 2010. So here goes:
- Will President Obama come out of his Washington bubble and finally lead the nation? In a word, no. I fear the health care reform bill was a lesson for all of us. Root cause of our health care problems is for profit medicine and in his interest to get any reform, he left the rotten apples in place. It became clear that gradualism is far more important than efficacy.
- Will we finally attack the tough problems such as our dependence on oil and climate change? Again another resounding no. We have a totally dysfunctional Congress owned by special interests that lacks any sort of political courage. In this case it does not depend on whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, what we see is local interests (coal industry for one) driving the train over the long term interests of the country.
- Will the economy get better? Marginally. The question that should be burning in your head is what is it that we will build and sell to the rest of the world. The last driver of our economy was selling debt as investment to the rest of the world. This was fueled by the bubble in housing prices and the easy credit which allowed money to flow into the economy as people took advantage of their home equity. It was a false economy from top to bottom. Many have suggested that the road to a prosperous future is to recognize that the world will need energy that does not destroy our world, but to date with special interests too invested in the status quo and Congress too heeled to that special interest, China and other producers are leaping ahead of us on capitalizing on this market.
- Will the financial markets and banks get reformed? See bullet two above. No. The appropriate way to reform the financial markets and the banks was to force them to feel the pain. The first step would have been to have them assume the loss in value of inflated mortgages that were and are now underwater instead of sticking it to the home owner. The next step would be to force all financial transaction (buying and selling of instruments like derivatives) to be completely transparent. The third step would have been to break up any institution that becomes too big to fail so that the market place can really function. Seen any of that happening? We still live on a totally false premise that as the stock market goes, so goes the economy, and that the stock market is the engine of innovation and new business. But the reality is that this is really a roulette wheel for the bankers and investors while the unemployment rate continues to stagnant and businesses cannot get capital.
- Will the present health care bill save the Democrats 2010? No. The present bill is loaded with stuff that even I, as a progressive, think is wrong headed. Forcing people to buy insurance and not giving them a public option is criminal. Their failure to stand tough on what they believe in will alienate the young voters and independents who brought them into power and they simply won’t vote next time in disgust. Granted that the Republicans offer nothing for solutions, but the Democrats have failed to vigorously challenge their lunacy or stand firm for what is right. This will be translated into voter apathy in 2010 and the Tea Partiers will hold sway in 2010. Judging from the present lineup of lunatic Senators and House Representatives that the Republicans have now, this does not bode well for our future.
- Finally will Afghanistan turn into a nightmare? Yes. The country and a national people that has been described doesn’t exist and the police and the Afghan National Army are a shambles. We are involved in a civil war and we are the primary fighters. We simply can’t afford to fight their war for them and there is no strategic interest in doing so. Nation building needs to come home.
As Dickens’ Scrooge said to the third ghost to visit him, isn’t there anything I can do to change this future? The answer is of course, yes, but it would require the following:
- Congressional Democrats finally find their backbone and start vigorously attacking the conservative lies and the liars instead of treating them as colleagues. They are not and they are destroying our country.
- The Senate needs to modify its rules. One Senator cannot hold up consideration of a nomination for office, and the filibuster rule needs to be change to say 55. Otherwise we are going nowhere as we eschew majority rule.
- The media needs to wake up and understand that they are creating another WMD moment, except in this country because they fail to fact check conservative talking points and repeat them incessantly as entertainment. They also need to demand real solutions instead of simply accepting wild accusations from their guests and be ready to challenge them on the facts.
- We need a President who leads. Accommodation days need to be over. There is a way forward built on sound principles and beliefs that could lead to, as Thomas Friedman likes to call them, optimal solutions. Settling for sub optimal solutions just puts us further and further behind. Time to draw a line and fight for what will work instead of accommodating what has failed.
- We need less religion in politics both nationally and in the world. Then there would not be some supreme being justifying immoral acts by the truly depraved.
- Finally we need to recognize that conservative ideas have failed. Whether it is the Neocon approach to world affairs, the tax cut solution to all problems, or the idea of less government will cure all our evils, these ideas in the last 30 years have set us back and lead to disastrous consequences. We need a rational discussion of solutions, not ideological food fights egged on by media as entertainment. If the country is going to move forward and regain its footing, the present crop of Republican fools need to be challenged and rejected as they are preventing even moderate solution to our problems.
Is it going to happen? Well I am an optimist so I can hope so. I mean after all, we are talking about the future of our children. I would personally be quite happy if we did allow Texas and the real South to succeed from the Union. Oh lets throw in Oklahoma and their two moronic Senators. That certainly would solve many problems and we could at least try something different.