Listen to the candidates debate…

Remember this?

How would Milton Friedman, the one who shaped Reaganomics, have reacted to the Paulson plan?

Conservatives garner tremendous support because they reject big government and are largely perceived as the ones who would ease the tax payers’ burden by cutting taxes. Paulson’s plan proposes large scale government involvement.

Earlier in his campaign Barack Obama was heard praising President Reagan and his policies; his call for less government, in an attempt to appear more centrist. Both candidates were promising tax cuts, albeit for different classes of people.

Now both sides are screaming for more regulation, more oversight and more government intervention. We can’t fault them for that. The nation faces a financial crisis and taxpayer dollars are being set aside for a proposed $700 billion bailout (click on the hyperlink for humor and enlightenment) and yes if our money is going to be spent in this manner, to absorb the fallout from the actions of a greed-driven Wall Street (remember how greed was supposed to be good, not so long ago?), then yes we deserve a foolproof plan. We deserve accountability and oversight, kudos to the candidates for insisting on bipartisan collaboration on this issue.

Both candidates have issued a “joint statement” where promises were made to set aside differences in order to work on a resolution together. The statement included five points of action credited to Senator Obama. There was nothing, no proposed roadmap or negotiation goals from Senator McCain. Tomorrow morning we’ll see both candidates meeting on this with President Bush.

This morning, as I was walking to work, I was inwardly cringing at Republicans attempting to brand Obama as “elitist”, at smirking right-wing talking heads who greet maverick moves with cheers of support. I was thinking about the last eight years of acting on gut feelings, on messages received during direct conversations with God, of boldly going where no weapons of mass destruction were ever found. I was wondering why they were always so keen on rejecting intelligence, analysis, considered viewpoints. Can no one see that this is the reason we find ourselves amidst a raving Idiocracy?

These were my idle Wednesday morning commuting thoughts. Then I got to my desk and logged on to the New York Times website for some news with my coffee. Imagine my surprise when I read this in a very informative article by David Leonhardt:

“Most members of Congress have no expertise in the byzantine details of mortgage finance — or even have aides on their staff with such expertise.

“The problem here is none of us has that kind of advice,” Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, who knows more about Wall Street than most of his colleagues, told me. ”

Congress has no one on staff to advise them. Chuck Schumer believes no one really understands or knows what to do. And they’re getting criticized left and right about classic Democratic dithering and interaction! They are failing to respond with the requisite urgency to the $700 billion plan! How unpatriotic of them.

Again, no one knows what they are doing. No one can tell whether what we need to pay is $700 billion for this rescue effort or just perhaps a $100 billion? What is the right amount? No one has a sense of what these assets are really worth and what their future selling price would be, what premiums if any could be realized. Just how mortgaged does our future need to be to the mortgage-backed securities crisis?

Why don’t our senators and congressman know what to do? Why do we elect ignorant officials? Why are we so convinced that intellectualism as defined by education, thinking and reasoning is not all that it is touted to be?

I am glad that some of them (Democrats) now realize how little they know, admitting ignorance is after all, a great first step toward enlightenment.

Senator McCain has admitted to wanting to be president simply because it has been his lifelong ambition. Should Americans vote him into office just to see the fruition of his ambitions, to reward him for being a POW? He has also admitted to a lack of understanding of economic policies. Can we afford someone in office again who professes a lack of understanding about economic policies?

His advisor was a consultant to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They claim he hasn’t had anything to do with them. Yet they paid him $15,000 a month. What did they pay for? McCain was asked about Rick Davis. He claimed that the man had nothing to do with them or that he had ever been paid. He invited an examination of Rick Davis’s records!

Then we have Carly Fiorina, the ex-CEO of Hewlett Packard who was ejected with a $42 million golden parachute in 1995. When questioned about this McCain responds that he believed she did a good job and that he had no knowledge of her compensation package. Is McCain’s distracting sideshow, the pounding of the lectern about caps on CEO salaries, based on Carly’s advice?

He wants to fight greed, he wants to fight evil. He wants to stress his heroism at war while conveniently sweeping Keating Five under a rug. He also talks about the economy being fundamentally strong. When questioned about that he changes to the populist tone of the American workers being the fundamentals of the economy and reiterating that he thinks the workers of America are strong. Perhaps he has failed to notice that the strong workers of America are increasingly unemployed!

He has voted with Bush 95% of the time, so how is he going to be any different from the man who has been in charge for the last eight years? The cowboy who got on his horse, just like the horse thief, the rider in his favorite painting who resembles him, and ran the country right off the cliff? Does McCain have special skills to help us clamber back up to safety? Does Sarah Palin? She counts, you see, because she has been overheard calling their ticket the Palin-McCain ticket!

Does anyone remember the Beardstown ladies? Can hockey moms, with pitbull attitudes, lead the country out of a financial mess? Grandmas cannot dole out maverick investment advice and hockey moms, with a fondness for witch hunting pastors, cannot run the country, no matter what the red states believe, not even after a two day long crash course in foreign policy. Moose hunting and being second in command to the “leader of the free world” require different and mutually exclusive skill sets. Retreating to the governor’s mansion in Alaska and going back to “seeing” Russia from a little window is a better option for such characters than being put in a position to take on Vladimir Putin. And there is nothing sexist about this statement. If the vice presidential nominee had been a soccer dad who felt that a baseball cap was the only difference between his kind of people and…pitbulls…my reaction would have been the same.

It’s so easy for so many people to be fascinated by mavericks, to be wooed and hypnotized by purveyors of “common sense” and gut instinct; rough riders and “action” minded individuals who criticize others for their words not translating into sufficient action. They fail to realize that there exists a continuum of thoughtless action and dithering inaction. Neither extreme works, but somewhere in the middle of that range, there is room for higher ground, where it’s conceivable that thoughts and actions can coalesce seamlessly. Our elected officials must show that they can be capable of such enlightenment before we place our trust in them.

This campaigning season has been bitter and contentious. There has been a lot of mudslinging, lots of spin doctoring, lots of election winning promises made. Suddenly none of that matters. The financial crisis ensured that. Reaganomics won’t work, laissez-faire policies have been rendered obsolete and meaningless, tax cut promises will not make sense anymore because we will bear the burden of the bailout for years to come. What then can the candidates promise? The times have changed, expectations have changed.

David Brooks had this to say in a New York Times opinion piece entitled – The Establishment Lives!:

“So we have arrived at one of those moments. The global financial turmoil has pulled nearly everybody out of their normal ideological categories. The pressure of reality has compelled new thinking about the relationship between government and the economy. And lo and behold, a new center and a new establishment is emerging.

The Paulson rescue plan is one chapter. But there will be others. Over the next few years, the U.S. will have to climb out from under mountainous piles of debt. Many predict a long, gray recession. The country will not turn to free-market supply-siders. Nor will it turn to left-wing populists. It will turn to the safe heads from the investment banks. For Republicans, people like Paulson. For Democrats, the guiding lights will be those establishment figures who advised Barack Obama last week – including Volcker, Rober Rubin and Warren Buffett.”

It’s possible that some people who actually know what they are talking about may be at the helm of this new world, steering us into a preferred future, if the Democrats win. If the Republicans win things won’t look quite so good. Senator McCain, who admits to the economy not being his strong suit, was seen hobnobbing with corporate raiders and tax evaders…to add to his entourage of failed CEOs and influence peddlers.

So one may ask what Senator Obama brings to the table and why we should place our trust in his stewardship, a valid question, given his inexperience.

I would vote for him because he brings intelligence and education to the table, because every time I listen to him he makes sense. He brings strength of character. He has shown fortitude in being the community organizer that he was when he could have been making millions of dollars in a law firm. Right there he showed what it meant to dedicate one’s life to public service. Because he owns one car, an American made hybrid vehicle, unlike his opponent’s stable of 13 imported cars and seven houses. Nothing wrong with that…except he shouldn’t go around telling voters that he doesn’t remember ever buying anything that wasn’t American made, with an eye on Detroit voters. Yes, he’s bought American made houses perhaps! Seven of them.

He brings sincerity and he brings hope. His opponent brings none of the above, not in my humble opinion. And after eight years of an unprecedented humbling of America, a loss of face on the world scene, a ravaged economy, we owe ourselves the promise of hope. We have nothing to lose by giving someone new a chance over the next four years. Elections do happen every four years.

1 Comment

  1. Very intelligently analysed thoughts, concerns and apprehensions of an enlightened american citizen. The world has been affected by this economic crisis. This is globalisation for you. God willing! things will get better.

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