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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Coming of Age in the Second Great Depression 
17th-Feb-2009 08:51 am
Hey, that sounds like a great title for a book. I call dibs, ha ha.

So Obama hasn't the political will and/or the political capital to do what is truly necessary. It's all happening the way I imagined it would during the primaries. Suffice it to say that I am disgusted--but not surprised--that one of the administration's first major scandals involved the push for universal healthcare, my #1 issue. It just confirmed to me what I suspected back then when he started attacking his opponents' proposals from the right: That Obama doesn't really give a f*ck.

Of course, the Big Issue right now is the economy, and Obama's big "victory" with the stimulus plan might as well be trying to catch a bullet in its proverbial teeth cheap dentures. So what can we expect in the Age of Obama? Well, I'm still reading Paul Krugman's blog. Some relevant bits:
[...] the Great Depression was ended by massive fiscal expansion, in the form of World War II. Maybe that will happen again; but so far policy seems inadequate to the task, and the political environment raises concerns aboutwhether we’ll be able to do much more.

So we may end up waiting for the economy’s ills to go into spontaneous remission. Which raises the question, how does that happen?

[...] recovery comes because low investment eventually produces a backlog of desired capital stock, through use, delay, and obsolescence. And eventually this leads to an investment recovery, which is self-reinforcing.

And what do we mean by use, delay, etc.? Calculated Risk had a nice piece on auto sales, which I find helps me to think about this concretely. As CR pointed out, at current rates of sale it would take 23.9 years to replace the existing vehicle stock. Obviously, that won’t happen. Even if the desired number of vehicles doesn’t rise, people will start replacing vehicles that wear out (use), rust away (decay), or just are so much worse than newer models that they’re worth replacing to get the spiffy new features (obsolescence).

As autos go, so goes the capital stock. In the long run, we will have a spontaneous economic recovery, even if all current policy initiatives fail. On the other hand, in the long run...
My intuition tells me that this post has reached straight to the heart of matters. Now, I've been reading Krugman for a long time, and if he has a flaw, it is that he is often too optimistic! As in, the reality ends up being what Krugman said it would for the reasons he said they would--just waaaaaay worse. I betcha the five-figure losses in my retirement annuity that he's still being too rosy here and that ten years from now I will have a new and improved understanding of abjection. In fact, I'm even willing to play the long odds that this Great Depression, like the last one, will end in a World War. (Have I just spoken the unspeakable?)

Needless, to say, I'm one of the so-called liberal elite (took a quiz that told me so, heh), and I am mad as hell. But I'm just one person, right? And there are a lot of Obama fanboys and girls out there who still haven't shaken the adoring stars from their eyes. I thought you wanted change, not 90s-style triangulation! Or was that just change for a twenty? Sorry, I ain't got any quarters left to waste on you.
17th-Feb-2009 05:19 pm (UTC)
Obama fans, as far as I can see, are still in denial. It's a new religion (devoid of reason and all that) nowadays methinks.
17th-Feb-2009 06:13 pm (UTC)
I wish could believe in God Obama, but he's much too conservative for my socialist self.
20th-Feb-2009 05:25 am (UTC)
I don't even know what I am anymore. Do liberal anarchists even exist? I would sympathize with them if they do.
20th-Feb-2009 05:30 am (UTC)
20th-Feb-2009 05:53 am (UTC)
nope, libertarians are EBIL imho ;) I don't buy into the "help yourself" mentality :)
20th-Feb-2009 05:57 am (UTC)
Well, there are the "abolish all laws, manly man by himself in the wilderness" types of libertarians. Those are annoying. But then there are rights libertarians--a.k.a. you should be allowed to do whatever you want as long as it doesn't hurt anybody. "Liberal anarchist" sounds a bit like the latter.
17th-Feb-2009 10:15 pm (UTC)
In the long run we're all dead, as the saying goes...
17th-Feb-2009 11:39 pm (UTC)
Yup, and the "In the long run, we're all dead" is an allusion to Keynes' writings specifically, whose theory Krugman's post was based on. Sort of a literary in-joke for economic theorists, I guess.
18th-Feb-2009 02:40 am (UTC)
As a raving liberal I would obviously like to see the stimulus be a lot more spending and a lot less useless tax cuts. That being said, are you suggesting that Hillary would do better? I can guarantee you McCain would be far worse. Remember how Hillary did the last time she tried Universal Healthcare. As much as I hate what the Republicans and the media have done to Obama, it would be a million times worse with Clinton because they wouldn't have to manufacture scandals, they'd already be there ready for the picking.

As for "90s-style triangulation", remember who was President for most of the 90s and invented "90s-style triangulation". Maybe I'm just jaded or maybe I've just been disappointed too often but Obama was obviously the best of all possible choices from a liberal standpoint. He may not always do what we want but a President Clinton redux or a President McCain would have been worse.
18th-Feb-2009 02:47 am (UTC)
And I don't think it has to do with the Obama fanboys with the stars in their eyes vs. the clear sighted Hillary acolytes with their moral superiority and huge brains, she would have run into the same problems and really the only difference would be the constant mentions of Whitewater and Monicagate emanating from the media elites. McCain, on the other hand, would have done nothing to fix the crisis. He wouldn't have repealed the Mexico City Policy. He would have appointed more extremists and religious fanatics to important posts and we'd probably already be at war with Iran. On balance I can be disappointed it hasn't gone better but I can't bring myself to be sorry about the outcome of the primaries or the election.
20th-Feb-2009 12:31 am (UTC)
I am thinking people are so glad for any change, they'll take anything that isn't Bush. And they are so busy defending him from the right that they haven't actually sat and given thought to what is happening right now. It's the unthinkable to people who were brought up to believe we're all that and a bag of chips, it can't happen here, etc. The reality is still just too frightening.
20th-Feb-2009 05:29 am (UTC)
Hmm. You think people are still in denial? Not in my family...or in my extended family either. But we're all 1) Gloom and Doom or 2) On the Precipice.

Well, first comes denial, then comes anger. I'd be happy to see a lot more rage regarding where we are right now.
20th-Feb-2009 11:05 am (UTC)
I'm not sure about denial, exactly. Sort of denial. Mainly fear.
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