Having expected that the boat would turn very slowly, it’s going faster than I’d anticipated. Barack Obama has a lot of stuff to overturn even as he makes progress. One thing that is clear from what he’s done so far, he keeps his eye on the goal of making government work for The People.
It was one of the biggest differences between Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt. For Hoover, his conventional morality about property and economics overrode the welfare of The People. “Sound economic practice” as he learned from the elders of his class, was supreme, If, as had already happened regularly, it produced an economic disaster the fault lay elsewhere. As always, with conventional established morality, The People would have to do the suffering for those principles he held*. He is often cited as being a great humanitarian for his work in famine relief. It is the chief defense of his hagiographers. If he had a great heart which bled for the suffering, it was overridden by his greater observance of scruples, an all too common mortal sin of the conventionally moral. His duty was to those principles, not to The People. Whatever else you could say about him, Hoover liked being a good boy. Perhaps even more than he wanted to alleviate suffering.
For all his faults, and like any human being he had many, Franklin Roosevelt’s greatness as president was that he was able to distinguish between petty, conventional, scruples and the bedrock of real morality. It’s what happens in the real world, to real people, what benefits them and what harms them, that is the genuine test of morality. It’s the only sound measure of a political idea or action, it is the only legitimate test of an economic dogma. If something didn’t work, he abandoned it for something that might work better. If the ambient conditions didn’t allow him to be totally candid, he didn’t allow that fact to keep him from acting to improve things. His lapses were there, but the general theme of his administration was in keeping with the practical attempt to make people’s lives better.
The developing conflict between the Democrats and Republicans over just about every aspect of policy, but especially on economic policy, hinges on these same questions. The manifest corruption and incompetence of the Reagan and two Bush presidencies, the lesson that conservative principles, even when they aren’t a cover for the grandest of larceny, have produced the two greatest economic disasters of the past hundred years. They have failed the test of time twice, they are kept in place due to their utility to the corrupt and the common received morality of our elite. It’s past time that we put up with it, the continuing appearance of the free-market hucksters in the media shilling the Reagan era snake oil that has given us three burst bubbles in the past thirty years. That has to be ended and the media, where I’ve been counting a two-to-one dominance of conservative hacks to one Milquetoast “liberal” is the rule . We have to kill it. Otherwise, the media elite and the Republican pirates have the power to keep the ultimate swindle going. We can’t afford it.
I think that Barack Obama is on the verge of abandoning the present bi-partisan attempt. I suspect he knew it was a necessary fiction when he embarked on it. He’s seen the Senate where Republicans have already tried to block just about anything but the program of their failed thinkers. I think if he doesn’t already know it that he will soon know that those members of his administration who participated in the free-market fantasy are wrong, if they have already let him know they’ve learned from recent history will soon be apparent.
But President Obama is the one in charge, he wants The Peoples’ government to work for us and he is going to have to insist on what works. The People might forgive failures in his attempts to do that, they will not forgive another rerun of the punking handed out to us by Paulson et al. Those critics of the financial bailout who smelled just the last Bush regime opportunity to hand out money to the thieves were correct. That someone as brilliant and astute as Barney Frank was duped by them is a lesson worth considering. His faith in their honesty and decency was wrong. I think that might have been due to his knowing that something had to be done fast and that the Bush regime and the more numerous Republicans in the legislative branch wouldn’t have allowed a bill with real restrictions to go through. I assume he knew more about the possible immediate consequences of waiting than I did, but the swindle that resulted makes the Madoff theft look like a purse snatching.
A criminal investigation of the entire Bush II regime has to be conducted and what money that can be recovered has to be. I don’t know how much if any of the loot Paulson handed to his cronies since October can be recovered, but you’d think any that was handed out on terms other than those designated by the congress should be. But, the law being so often an ass, as well as often the servant of wealth, that might not be possible. But that’s for another time.
But the Democrats are in charge now and they need to play hard ball. They need a handful of “moderate” Republicans in the Senate to keep the worst of that party from blocking what’s necessary. I am sorry to report to you that after running in the fall as a “moderate”, Susan Collins shows some sign that her continuing with that ruse doesn’t fit her career plans. I would guess that she presently sees her future as a presidential or vice-presidential candidate, though she’s a long shot at best. I do think she can be pressured from her constituents, though they have given her a pass up till now. That could change if she is challenged as an obstructionist, making economic distress worse. That’s our best tool with these “moderates”.
* The People are generally the only ones who suffer for establishment morality in all its manifestations. The People being regularly sacrificed for “principle” is an intrinsic part of the true conservative religion. It’s only when The People refuse to play the part of sacrificial sheep that this stops. But they’ve got to have the phony scheme pointed out first. With the constant propaganda of the past 40 years, selling us those lies, that is going to take a major effort in itself.