Sunday, January 13

Presidential Campaign 2008 & Katie

Well, the Edwards supporters shook me up.

They finally did it. I was convinced for over 12 months that policies that Barack Obama would and could get through (as a whole) would be the best of anybody's.

Sure, Edwards had a better health care plan. And sure, he was pushing the populism speeches harder right now.

But in just about every other domain, I liked Obama's policies better. They seemed both progressive and likely to pass.

But this just goes through the roof. I think it's because I'm a numbers person and I react so much to this kind of thing.

Edwards urged Congress to act immediately to pass at least a $25 billion jobs plan in early 2008 and be ready to pass $75 billion more if there is more evidence that we are entering a recession. Edwards believes that every American should have access to a good job and the chance to build a better life. To provide a much-needed boost to a weakening economy, Edwards' economic stimulus plan calls for investing in clean energy infrastructure, increasing federal aid to help states avoid cutting programs that help families through hard times, reforming unemployment insurance and tackling the housing crisis.

Now, I haven't added up the Obama numbers--I think it's time I did--but I keep seeing things like $1 billion here, $10 billion there, $2 billion there, $7 billion there...and Edwards just coming out and saying, "Look, we could need $100 billion, so pass it. Period." makes me so happy!

Because we DO!

And things like aid to states for public services, reforming government insurance so it works best, getting renewable energy jobs going...those are things I'm down with. I'm not too against the government pouring billions into those kinds of things (though preferably not ethanol).

So now what?

Edwards, because he is starting to say, with his mainstream voice, things that I only dream of and smile when I hear Russ Feingold, Keith Ellison, and Dennis Kucinich say but don't bother to vote over because they seem too far-fetched to enter the mainstream?

Or Obama, because although he might be promising less money on programs I like, he'll have to do less to get Republicans to pass the expenditures?

I mean, this money dump of Edwards's sounds like New Deal programs. And a lot of those were damn good ideas.

On the other hand, FDR had to do all sorts of unconstitutional things to get those programs passed. And Edwards is no more liked by Republicans and conservative Democrats in Congress than FDR was. Would the claims he'd have to make about the Executive Branch's power set us up for people who never liked Edwards's policies in the first place to have the power to undo them even farther once he's gone? (After all, LBJ's "Great Society" programs had a huge backlash, and although a lot of it happened through Congress, a lot also happened through the Executive Branch.)

Plus, when you're bludgeoning through big programs, there's less opportunity to make sure they get distributed justly.
For example, to get support for the programs from fiscally conservative racists, you have to appeal to their racism and avoid putting in mechanisms that would prevent them from having it spent disproportionately on white people. You have to say, "Oh, sure! I believe that it'll trickle down in your hands! And since you're helping me pass spending so much, I'm sure they'll get a good chunk of change!"

There's this part of me that feels like Obama could get $20 billion spent and make sure it's spent far more fairly on Native Americans, blacks, Latinos, Arabs, Asians, transpeople, the disabled, etc. etc. etc. than white culture has ever done at the national level.

But geez louise...$100 billion is a lot of money.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

1) So, where do you suppose we get that $100 billion? Ideally, we would cut down defense spending, but with the Iraq debacle, that's hard to do. We can't travel back in time and undo the invasion, and now that we've created a spectacular mess, we do have the obligation to fix it.

2) Does that $100 billion actually amount to all that much? If every cent of that went to people, and if we allocated ~$25K per person, that's only ~4 million in a country of ~300 million (granted, not all of those are a part of the work force). Remember that the New Deal didn't really do all that much. It was a confidence/morale booster, but in terms of economic impact, it was very limited at best.

3) Does that $100 million fix the underlying problems of the job market? It's just a band-aid for a problem that will persist, if not get worse. The problem that needs to be fixed (though not easily) is population. Not evil corporations abusing labor, because the question isn't whether they abuse labor (they do), but rather, why it is so easy for them to do so (because of asymmetric power; but why the asymmetry?). You know, the Black Death was probably the best thing to have happened to Europe. By killing off a third of the population (and in some places, over half), it dramatically shrunk the supply of labor, raising the value (and power) of the surviving peasantry, and contributed greatly to the demise of feudalism (in contrast, Eastern Europe, which was not nearly as severely affected, remained in the dark ages for centuries more). Since we can't kill off people, we need policies to limit reproduction (especially in the Third World, through education campaigns and lobbying governments), we need a candidate who is actually acknowledges that by far the greatest challenge facing humanity is population (and not some good stupid sound-bite issues like "terrorism" or "poverty") and absent population control, we need policies to help people develop capital (encouraging investment over consumption and encouraging education). Now how many candidates go around espousing THAT? Edwards is far too out of touch with [the harsh] economic reality.

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