Wednesday, January 16, 2008

America's Most Effective President Ever?

Americans now wake up every morning—amidst the reports from Washington that the economy is great—and anxiously check the news to find out what new financial shocker will be added to the house of horrors that we call our economy. Will it be a run-of-the-mill stock market plunge, sub-prime funny business that will turn our houses into big retirement savings sponges, runaway CEO and corporate greed, or just a past-due notice for a trillion-dollar war? (What color envelope will that come in, radioactive pink?) And what of our dependence on oil? Can we add that to the list, or do we have to wait until it completes its transformation from military grief to economic disaster?

In the latest installment of "it's the economy, stupid," the neo-con legacy will finally be measured in terms and actions blunt enough to cut through the tough talk and moralistic smokescreen. When the dust settles Americans will see that eight years of ass-backwards values have trashed our economy to an extent never imagined. While the current presidential primaries continue their misdirected obsession with race, gender, soundbites, and idiotic moralistic tokens, the real story continues to be the fiscal difference between liberal and conservative values.

And here they are. For eight years we have seen...
  • short-term values instead of long-term;
  • consolidation of wealth instead of distribution;
  • promotion of consumption instead of efficiency;
  • cultivation of corporate greed instead of responsibility;
  • distancing of the global community instead of participating in it;
  • abhorrence of governance instead of improvement of it.

Sure, the moralistic differences between the Democrats and Republicans matter, but not when the pocketbook is on the table. No, no, no. Abortion, guns, school vouchers, who cares?

Our economy is a juggernaut—it takes a lot to get it down. But eight years of backwards values, combined with the X factor—the end of cheap oil—are proving to be enough. If you're a conservative and you think that electing a Republican back to the presidency will turn this thing around, you need to think about this more carefully.

The Clinton years were prosperous because of values that promoted long-term interests, spread the wealth around, and regarded government as a productive sector of the economy. Spreading money to the little guys is what fanned the flames of the economy. It wasn't just the Internet boom that made the late 90's the most prosperous period we might ever see. It was values in the right direction. It's almost impossible to screw up this economy... but sadly, Dick and George have shown the way. Borrow $1 trillion from our grandchildren and give it to the halliburtons of the world; allow the automotive industry to lead us to the oil trough indefinitely with no real alternatives; give corporations enough freedom to melt down housing and finance; and do nothing to control runaway healthcare or college costs.

No one knows where it will end, but when the bill comes due, people will know who to point the finger at. This is not 'bortion, guns, or vouchers we're talkin' 'bout folks. Fin'ly.

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