A nation in denial -- Tuesday's open thread


I’m starting the new year with the sinking feeling that important opportunities are slipping from the nation’s grasp. Our collective consciousness tends to obsess indiscriminately over one or two issues — the would-be bomber on the flight into Detroit, the Tiger Woods saga — while enormous problems that should be engaged get short shrift.

That's Bob Herbert, who really emerged over the last couple of years as our national voice of reason; unfortunately reason is a very, very scary place in 2010. Here's the reality based world that we're trying so desperately to avoid as we focus on other things:

This is a society in deep, deep trouble and the fixes currently in the works are in no way adequate to the enormous challenges we’re facing. For example, an end to the mantra of monthly job losses would undoubtedly be welcomed. But even if the economy manages to create a few hundred thousand new jobs a month, it would do little to haul us from the unemployment pit dug for us by the Great Recession. We need to create more than 10 million new jobs just to get us back to where we were when the recession began in December 2007.

What’s needed are big new innovative efforts to fashion an economy that creates jobs for all who want and need to work. Just getting us back in fits and starts over the next few years to where we were when the recession began should not be acceptable to anyone. We should be moving now to invest aggressively in a new, greener economy, leading the world in the development of alternative fuels, advanced transportation networks and the effort to restrain the poisoning of the planet. We should be developing an industrial policy that emphasizes the need for America to regain its manufacturing mojo, as tough as that might seem, and we need to rebuild our infrastructure.

Socialism? Hardly. As Philly homeboy Atrios points out today, we already do manage the living daylights out of the U.S. economy, but we do it rather stupidly and unfairly. This is our real war -- against joblessness-- and it's good to think about the current rise in spending that way; we had to invest billions to save the planet during World War II and it was paid back in the prosperous decades that followed; it may not be possible for a lot of reason to exactly duplicate the economy of the 1950s but we do need a second "Greatest Generation" to step up here.

Remember, this is an open thread so all topics are on the table, even Swify's never-ending review of "Exile on Main Street." Someone needs to talk me off of the Eagles' ledge and convince me to at least watch this game on Saturday night.