Wednesday, February 25, 2009
On a more serious note, I think the essential point of Obama's speech is one that has, as far as I can tell, gotten less coverage and thought than it deserves:
"...In other words, we have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn't afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.
Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here..."
That's the whole deal, the truth, the reality of what we've been fed for the past four decades (with one eight-year exception), the price to be paid for it: the false economy of Reagan/Bush/Bush, with the last Bush having taken it to an extreme the failure to rail against which by Republicans is to their eternal shame. And our eternal catastrophe.
It's been obvious for a long time: the economy under Republicans has been like the hole in a doughnut. It's been a credit card. Go forth and spend, we were told. And we did. Lookie here, things are great, they told us, and we agreed. That we were running up debt on the card, and that we'd be the ones to have to pay it off -- well, we were told and we agreed, nothing to worry about. Chickens? Roost? Won't happen.
Well, it has. There was always going to be a heavy price to pay. Massive debt, ignoring fundamental needs, greed, partying on. There was a reckoning coming back at us, and here it is. That's the essence of what Obama said last night. And it's the undeniable truth.
And here's the thing: with winks and nods and short-term thinking, with scaring enough people into reelecting George Bush, with robbing the store before our very eyes and calling it patriotism, the Republican party and those who bought its paper promises are to blame. As are well all. It's hard to resist the seduction: lower taxes, ignore societal needs, let someone else worry about it, rock on.
Well that day of reckoning has arrived. It's not a message those who got us here want to hear. They're doing everything they can to deny it, to continue the party into the darkest of night.
In self-righteous fury we hear them say: it was those people who bought houses they couldn't afford. Spending money they didn't have. How awful, how disgraceful, how unAmerican. Can they not see the irony? That the economic policy we've been sold since Reagan was exactly that? Spending money we didn't have, buying things we couldn't afford, ignoring the leaky roof?
Shame on those homeowners, they say, while trying to bring down the man who says it's time to face the music.
The day of reckoning has arrived.
When will they say shame on us?
[Updated answer: never, evidently, as long as they continue to think like this.]