Cutting Through The Crap

Friday, July 29, 2011

Stating The Obvious (x2)



Tom Friedman, while not a complete stranger to bloviation, is often right. In his latest, he says, with but a small oversight, more or less exactly what I've been saying for a long time:

[The formula for past American success] is built on five basic pillars: educating the work force up to and beyond whatever technology demands; building the world’s best infrastructure of ports, roads and telecommunications; attracting the world’s most dynamic and high-I.Q. immigrants to enrich our universities and start new businesses; putting together the best regulations to incentivize risk-taking while curbing recklessness (not always perfectly); and funding research ...

[...]


After all, “we don’t just need a plan for regaining American solvency. We need a plan for maintaining American greatness and sustaining the American dream for another generation,” argues Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert...

...
.. Anyone who says that either entitlement reform or tax increases are off the table does not have a plan for sustaining American greatness and passing on the American dream to the next generation.

Alas, that is the Tea Party. It is so lacking in any aspiration for American greatness, so dominated by the narrowest visions for our country and so ignorant of the fact that it was not tax cuts that made America great but our unique public-private partnerships across the generations. If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the G.O.P. on a suicide mission. ...

His small oversight is that we have in The White House exactly that person, who sees what's needed absolutely clearly. And it's his party that, while not particularly happy about it, has been willing to move in the needed direction. Friedman also seems to miss the obvious point that it's not just the Republican party that teabaggers are destroying. It's our country.

Otherwise, his characterization of teabaggers is exactly correct. Since they'll never see it themselves -- clarity is hardly a defining characteristic -- the only hope is that enough voters might figure it out before it's too late. But, as I've also said many times, a critical mass of the electorate has been carefully molded by Rovian cynicism into a bunch of credulous, gullible true believers, unable to see where their (and the country's) real interests lie, happy to buy into the hatreds and falsehoods that Foxrovobeckians have so deliberately and effectively nurtured.


[As long as I'm leaning heavily on the NYT, everyone ought to read this swan-song article, by David Leonhardt, an excellent economic writer, leaving that desk to become their Washington bureau chief:


... The malaise obviously has several causes, some of which are beyond our control. One major cause, however, is entirely our doing. We do not spend enough time focusing on our actual economic problems....

... One of the tricky things about the subject is that almost nothing is certain in the way that, say, two plus two equals four. Economics — which is at root a study of human behavior — tends to be messier. Because it’s messier, it can be tempting to think that all uncertainty is equal and that we don’t really know anything.

But we do...

When it comes to economics, we know that a market economy with a significant government role is the only proven model of success. ... On the other hand, unencumbered market forces often lead to disaster, as 1929 and 2008 made clear. ...

We also know that ever-rising levels of education are crucial to a country’s success. ... The next time you hear naysayers poormouth college, ask them if they plan to send their own children.

...

We know that the federal government has promised more benefits than it can currently afford. The only way out of this problem involves some combination of tax increases and cuts to Medicare, Social Security and the military. Anyone who won’t get specific about which ones they favor is not a fiscal conservative...

The bottom 50 percent of households, based on pretax income, make less combined than the top 1 percent. Only three decades ago, the bottom half made more than twice as much. The middle class has also received a much smaller tax cut in recent decades than the affluent...

The real problem with so many of these issues is that the political system is not even trying to find solutions. ...
...

... Some of the world’s most talented people — students and would-be entrepreneurs who would like nothing more than to remain in this country — are told they are not welcome. Amazingly, Congress may be about to create a whole new economic problem by voluntarily defaulting on the national debt...

Perhaps the last refuge for optimists is Churchill’s reputed line: “In the long run, Americans will always do the right thing — after exploring all other alternatives.” The sentiment is nice. It would be comforting to have a little more reason to believe that history was going to repeat itself.

Count me as one who doesn't think so. Or, if they do, it'll be too late. Because it already is.]


2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"World's Most dynamic and high-IQ immigrants"???
rather Hitler-esque of you, Adolf.
Oh, I'm sorry, thats not quite fair, it's more Stalin-ly.
Hitler wanted the world's most blonde-haired-blue-eyed Poles, Latvians, Czechs to do those jobs Germans just won't do(which is most of them).
and as an employer of lets see, theres Katrina, Nadia, and this other one who's smokin hot with one blue and and one green eye, who do the Housework Mrs. Drackman wont do, Jose, Jose, and Jose, who keep the fireants where they belong, my neighbors yard, and Pedro, who's kept my pool I hardly ever use free of coliforms, what is that...
6, which is misleading, cause I only pay Alexi and Manuel, and they decide how much Honey trickles down to the Worker Bees...
Only "High IQ" immigrant I know is Jug-Dish, who gets my duty-free Indian Cigars, and its worth listening to him whine about how much he made as a Surgeon in Bangalore while he drives me to Atlanta-Zimbabwe-Hartsfield to fly to one of my "Medical Conferences"..

PS Are the Mariners still in the American League?

Frank

Anonymous said...

When an article by Friedman that is mostly wrong is considered mostly right, we are in serious trouble. Sure, he understands what ought to happen. But he doesn't understand that the Republican party hasn't been interested in that for about 30 years. And I seriously doubt the President and much of his party does either based on their current proposals. Cutting Medicare (versus controlling medical costs), Medicaid and Social Security is a really bad idea and not needed.

Did you actually READ his column? He's one of the Very Serious People who seeks the middle ground. Heck, he doesn't even realize that a centrist party would be more liberal than any of the current parties. Krugman has the proper words about that.

-MV