If the President Felled a Tree in a Forest…

What a weird day watching the news.  According to the news today, some independent agency says that the President’s Economic Stimulus Package doesn’t have ESP at all. It couldn’t predict that people wouldn’t believe in it.

According to the bi-partisan or non-partisan group, the stimulus package has produced or saved 1.2 million jobs.  The odd thing is that most Americans apparently don’t believe it. Their sense: Bankers got the deal while we got the shaft.

While I agree with the first part, I don’t agree with the second. It could just be me, but I know quite a few construction workers who have jobs because of the stimulus package. I can’t count the number of ways Jodi Rell, our governor, used the money — to extend benefits, to finance schools, and more. Every time I turn around, it seemed she’s using the money for something. Still, of course, there’s not enough to do everything that needs to happen. But the money certainly was spent here.

And yes, the various CEOs are still getting HUGE salaries for running companies poorly. And yes, the  credit card companies are already figuring out new ways to mess with the American consumer (hi, Val!) after this latest attempt to stop them from doing so.  The only difference is now we actually care about it. Remember the movie Wall Street: “Greed is good”? That was in what, the 1980’s? Unions have been complaining about CEO salaries for years as their memberships’ jobs disappeared.  People with shares in those companies thought it was great.  But, now, suddenly, it’s bad because Obama’s linked to it? So, what, we can screw ourselves and that’s OK, but if the government tries to stop us from hurting ourselves they’re the problem?

Remember the President’s State of the Union speech where there were few claps, whistles, or anything? The man can’t give it away. Why? Because he doesn’t get angry enough, because his people believe in decorum and don’t yell crazily like the broadcasters on the networks, especially (but not only) Fox.  The man has had uninvited visitors to the White House, seen the nation attacked by a terrorist, had his health care reform attacked mercilessly, attended a conference on global warming that, until Al Gore, most people didn’t believe existed either and eked out something, anyway, and who gets the credit for anything? People who spent billions to derail him, politicians without a plan of their own, Dick Cheney, and Sarah Palin.  How much can one man handle?

This is not to say even I like all of his policies — more on nuclear power later — but, if we’re not in a depression, the stimulus worked. We hit an economic iceberg with the boat of capitalism last year and he rode in with a welding crew to keep the whole thing afloat.

I remember when the banks failed and I would have been just as happy to let them do so because things had gotten so corrupt.  It took a long time for us to get this way and I expected a long time to get out of it. I was surprised when the House was going to let them drown in their own red ink. I personally would have liked to see a Roosevelt-style New Deal and people see the economy and human beings’ rights to exist as separate issues, but it didn’t happen. We only got an overhaul of the banks, cars, and a shot at health care.  OK.

But, no, in came Obama (still in Bush’s term!) making plans to save the perishing.  He hit the ground running and here we are. We didn’t hit bottom, but we didn’t drown either. There aren’t any more “foreclosed” signs on my street. The automakers are doing OK (well, except for Toyota, and I don’t understand what happened there, either). My clients tell me that the economy is looking better around here. The step-father of one thought he’d have to move South for a good period and then saw 6 or 8 jobs in his area nearby.

I understand that this is just anecdotal evidence, which isn’t fact, but even when facts (see above) are in evidence, nothing happens.  People want to hate this President.  Maybe because he seems to let them bully him.  He doesn’t come out swinging until he’s really cornered.  The thing is, his not defending himself all that well doesn’t mean that it’s not the bullies’  faults.

Our President, in the odd sort of world we live in, is a victim — a victim of huge, rich, media bullies, while they tell us we’re victims of his power.  Obama doesn’t have any more power, folks. It’s gone and in many ways, his party’s acting like he’s a lame-duck President.

Have insurance rates gone down yet? Maybe we should have health care reform.  Should we have more government inspectors, so we know when a car companies threatening us?  That would require more government and we’re “all” against that.  What about plowing in the South after this week?  I bet the governors of those states want money from the Federal government. They may even take it from the Stimulus Plan.  It’s time we started believing the man we elected and recognize who the bullies really are.

But, hey, that’s just me.

Peace,

John

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One thought on “If the President Felled a Tree in a Forest…

  1. The reason for the stimulus was because companies (such as my own) which needed to borrow money for their operations could not get it, because the banks were not lending. By injecting capital into the banking system, the idea was that sustainable industries would have access to the capital they needed in order to continue operations (via the banks).

    However, the whole plan didn’t work- banks tightened lending policies so much that those very same company were deemed to not be “credit worthy”, and the lending stayed stopped (pretty much). Banks hoarded the money and paid out bonuses, while companies that needed money starved.

    The stimulus you refer to is completely pork. One-time construction projects (like $21million spent to update the Kennedy Museum) had NOTHING to do with *sustainable industries*, they were all one-time jobs that will stop contributing to the economy as soon as they are complete. Unfortunately, many people perceive that was what they stimulus package was supposed to do, but in fact it wasn’t. It was so that sustainable industries could sustain themselves again.

    By the way, I don’t blame Obama for this- the recession was in full swing before he took office, and the stimulus was crafted by the Bush administration before Obama took office. If there is any blame to be given, the right place to lay that blame is whoever did not put enough “strings” on the money, so that once it went to the banks it would be carried through into the companies that needed it. The money was given to the banks, and it stopped there.

    Now, as the banks return to profitability, the companies which need access to money to sustain their operations (such as mine) are drowning. And, no substantial new regulations have been put in place to prevent this from happening again. There is nothing in place to stop banks (supposedly low-risk places to put money) from also being investment houses (which are inherently high risk). At a minimum, the rules pertaining to monopolies should be extended to any type of corporation which becomes “too big to fail” however our lawmakers don’t have the requisite gumption to craft that legislation.

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again- the only solution to our countries long-term economic problem is to reinstate import tariffs on finished goods from any country (i.e. China) which does not compete on a “level playing field” with respect to the cost of manufacturing (i.e. safety, environmental rules, intellectual property, etc.). Until then, the US manufacturing sector (formerly 20% of GDP, now under 10% of GDP) will continue to whither and die while others are rewarded for unethical operations.

    I blame neither Bush nor Obama for the current situation (nor do I give Obama credit for any improvements since he’s taken office)- I blame the Clinton administration for granting MFN trading status to China. 1998 was the end of prosperity in the US.

    Most economists I listen to expect a “W” shaped recovery, because once the pork ceases there will be another drop in the economy (and because the US economy is still unsustainable without its own manufacturing sector).

    You can’t spend your way to prosperity, you can’t borrow your way to prosperity. You can only work your way to prosperity.

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