Archive: March, 2009
You can't blame folks for being confused about this economic mess -- about what is really going on and who is to blame for outcomes that are all too real, including massive job losses, declining home values and shrinking retirement funds. Today is a prime example. Today, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has come out with the latest bank bailout plan, Bank Rescue 4.0 or 5.0...we've all lost count. Like the earlier iterations, almost everybody hates it. Conservatives hate it. Liberals hate it. Ecomomists hate it. Paul Krugman hates it.
Here's what progressive blogger Jane Hamsher said today, a fairly pithy summary of how a lot of people feel:
Jimmy Rollins did all he could do, but it wasn't enough. The U.S. will be sitting on the sidelines for a World Baseball Classic final between Japan and Korea that should have America's baseball managers thinking like America's auto plant managers were thinking in the 1980s, which is...how do we import the Japanese system? If baseball is anything like the global economy, look for China to take the field against India in the 2029 WBC final.
The WBC is fun diversion right now, but it's really just a diversion. With nothing like the prestige and career-making opportunities of soccer's World Cup, and with the decision to hold the event during spring training, when pitchers aren't able to work a full game, the Classic may never reach Olympian levels. There's always going to be injury issues, as with Chase Utley or A-Rod this year, but when players like Ryan Howard can sit it out for the heck of it, this will never be baseball's March Madness.
We keep hearing about how it took World War II to finally end the Great Depression, which is sort of true but not an excuse not to credit Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs for steeply reducing unemployment and growing the American economy at an impressive rate from its 1932 lows. What rarely gets mentioned is that one of the ways that the U.S. economy worked its way our from the giant funk of the late 1970s and early 1980s, during the Reagan years, was a massive economic stimulus program.
What -- you didn't hear about that? I'm talking about the billions upon billions that Washington poured into defense contracts during the 1980s, which caused government spending to soar and deficits to rise sharply along with them -- not unlike the President Obama plan that Republicans are now calling a "doomsday" scenario. And make no mistake, defense spending was a huge stimulus program. I was living on Long Island in the mid-to-late 1980s and the giant defense contractor Grumman Corp. was a huge engine that turned around the economy in that region, which had really fallen off during the 1970s. Since defense contracts can't really be outsourced oversees, they're a very effective way of creating jobs on the homefront.
I'd call this idea "a home run" except we're talking soccer here so I guess it's a "golden goal": How the taxpayers' ownership of the Notorious AIG can boost soccer in America.
Captain Kirk chairs! (Does it have something to do with Spock being in the White House?)
Wait until Hong Kong starts making 'em for cheaper.
Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain! Whatever else the global financial crisis, puctuated by the highly justified outrage over the obscene and unwarranted bonuses paid to executives of taxpayer bailed-out insurance giant AIG, brings our way, it has done one thing. It has yanked away for good that longstanding (although rather transparent, in my humble opinion) curtain, to reveal the Rube Goldberg-like array of levers and pulleys which Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and their ilk have used to manipulate their populace. And just like the mythical land of Oz, it turns out there was really no wizardry, no magic. Just an illusion -- that they were on the side of "the people."
It worked for nearly 20 long years, didn't it? Like any slight of hand, the gimmickry of right-wing talk radio was really quite simple. Take the anxieties of millions of working-class Americans -- over the slowly eroding American dream, the disappearing pensions, the struggle for adequate health care and to pay for college. the need to work two, three four jobs in a household merely to stay even -- and use smoke and mirrors to deflect attention away from where all that wealth was really going, steadily drained uphill to the wealthiest Americans, to CEOs who went in a few short years from making 42 times what a rank-and-file worker made to more than 400X.