Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Betrayal you can believe in

I have been biting my tongue, thinking that Obama was being pragmatic in trying to forge a working majority because the work so urgently needs doing. But what is the point of all the compromises when they restore the failed priorities we just voted down in November?

All I can can say is that I hope more senators come around to Obama's message that we really do need to put aside ideology, that Republicans too must make concessions. The continuation of policies that make working people into poor people and poor people into poorer people are going to make the repair of our economy a much more painful and protracted affair than it needed to be. Obama should not have been stampeded. What grief may have come of delay, he could lay at the feet of the Republicans...he is not getting their selfish ignorant votes anyway.

If the economy is going to stay busted for a long time and yet repair bills in the form of sacrificed tax revenue are going to be amassed and left to the next generation to pay, then we are being screwed. Will some alternative economy spring up in the shadows of shuttered banks and brokerage houses after we tire of turning over money to the charlatans of Wall Street? How many of us can find a way to do work others really need done in exchange for food, fuel, shelter? Can individual consumers buy oil and gas by barter alone? Can any significant number of Americans yet get along without these fuels? If conventional jobs, by the millions or tens of millions just go away and cannot be coaxed back, how many of us have a subsistence back up plan?

You might find my pessimism a bit extreme. I hope it is but, as Josh Marshall tries to emphasize in his comments on a CNBC interview of Roubini and Taleb, the picture your press is trying to paint for you is worse than optimistic, it is completely blind. As long as our opinions are being fed by bozos bought into a bogus banking system, establishment of a sustainable [that word applies with a vengence to economics, as if you had not noticed] system... where credit is secured by properly valued real goods and no banker has the power to leverage other people's lives and livelihoods...could only come about by accident

If we won't invest in infrastructure or alternative energy with any vigor, enthusiasm or risk unless and except it is just a way to prop up our car-centric consumer culture, we probably won't make it to the end of this century as a first world economy, let alone as the last seat of anglophone empire. We are not only betrayed in Washington. We as a nation of consumers betray our children by wasting our precious dwindling capital and clout on ways of living, working and moving about that will, in a few decades, be rusted ruins that mock our short sightedness and inability to grasp that there were much bigger changes we needed to endure; changes we did not believe in.

UPDATE: Robert Reich blogs at TPM where he provides a plausible if reprehensible rationale for the Republican sabbotage of the recovery act: they are invested in regaining seats by preserving our misery until the midterms.

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