As is my habit I like to exercise with the news on. It gives me that extra burst of power that comes from pure anger. Today they were babbling about the horse race: X is up by y%, A leads B by z%, and my favorite, if the vote were held today, Obama and Romney are tied in Pennsylvania. So what did we just learn? Nothing. It is mental masturbation. People right now are not paying attention to the election and they comment based upon how they are feeling that day about the economy. But it has nothing to do with what either is proposing on the economy, because that is not even being discussed. Policies, what stinkin’ policies?
Now based upon what I know today, I could hardly see why anyone would vote for Romney because the Republican policies of low taxes and less regulation is the recycled gibberish that got us here. It makes no sense and I think what is being expressed is simply unhappiness with the present circumstances and the failure of the Obama Administration to do anything about it. But I think their unhappiness runs deeper than that. It is like the feeling of the Republicans toward their candidates, we are all looking for more.
If we were actually discussing policies, here is what might actually come out: Both sides are assuming that if we either cut taxes and regulations, or do massive stimulus spending, things will return to normal. But most people (the sane ones, not the Tea Party who are irrationally circling the wagons) sense on some level that there is a whole new economic world out there and they are scared. Neither side is either addressing that fear directly or offering a plausible road map to a prosperous future. Both sides are saying, let’s just get things back on track the way they were and everything will be fine. And if you come to that realization, then you understand why some middle of the road solutions simply won’t work. Neither side is addressing long term solutions and a compromise measure simply kicks the can down the road.
Here are some questions we might want to think about:
- How are we to compete in a global economy?
- What is it we will sell to the rest of the world that provides well paying jobs?
- Is a strong dollar really hurting us?
- What will get us out of our present tail spin?
- Does our present system push wages down and slowly reduce the middle class?
- Do our own citizens have the buying power to sustain our economy?
- Has the shift in wealth to a few crippled our economy?
- Even more important, has the shift in wealth to a few unbalanced the political system so most citizens are disenfranchised?
The bottom line here is that we need short term fixes to get us out of our tail spin, and long term fixes to address all the rest. The answers are out there, and they are not new. I will tell you right now cutting taxes and gutting government is a recipe to make our problems worse and continue our slide to oblivion. But at the same time, short term stimulus, without a long term plan is just a band aid on a major wound. In my blog “It Really is all about the Economy, Part II” (Part 1 described where we are and the politics of fear), I will tell you what I think are some of the answers. I have to finish Dean Baker’s book, End of Loser Liberalism, Making Markets Progressive, first so I can have a balanced view. The new world is a place of progressive economics, and government partnering with the market place. That partnership is a balance of what encourages business and what improves the quality of life for all of us. Unlike what conservatives have been trying to tell us. these two are not mutually exclusive.