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Obama’s election agenda: absurdly inadequate

December 8, 2011

The election is less than a year away and Barack Obama’s speech the other day in Kansas is probably best interpreted as the outline for his upcoming campaign.  Many influential liberals certainly hope so.  Much of the speech was devoted to a fairly accurate description of the dire straights of working people, to such a degree you’d think he was building up to a grand climax that would tear down at least some of the walls of brutal capitalism and usher in a new era of social democracy.  But, of course, not so.  The system of capitalism is a-ok he tells us with phrases pulled straight from his former employer, the University of Chicago: “the free market is the greatest force for economic progress in human history” and “businesses, not government, will always be the primary generator of good jobs”.

Obama’s speech turns out to be pretty much of the same fabric we find written every day in the media whereby “serious experts” fairly accurately describe the nature of our crisis and then proceed to offer completely inadequate solutions.  Does Obama present some type of New Deal to struggling workers or perhaps a global solution down the lines of a New Bretton Woods monetary system that would promote global prosperity?  Anything at all that comes even remotely close to the scale of the problem?  The answer is a clear negative.  Rhetoric aside, here’s what this void of a president proposes as an answer to the great crisis of the 21st century:

1)      Education.  “It starts by making education a national mission – government and businesses”.  This is ridiculous.  Every nation on earth is pushing education.  The problem isn’t a lack of education, it’s that technology itself is creating fewer high paying jobs.  This is well known by serious observers and to claim that more or better education is the key starting point for addressing the problem of global capitalism is simply absurd.

2)      More investment in high tech science.  “We also need a world-class commitment to science, research, and the next generation of high-tech manufacturing”.  “We should be known for creating and selling products all over the world that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America.”  Obama probably got this from a golf outing with Thomas Friedman.  This again is absurd as production will certainly continue to go to the location with the lowest global labor cost.  Ever declining wages is the only way the US can again become a mass exporter.

3)      Build more and better roads and infrastructure, not for improving our direct quality of life, mind you, but to make the US attractive to business in a grand global beauty contest.  “Today, manufacturers and other companies are setting up shop in places with the best infrastructure to ship their products, move their workers, and communicate with the rest of the world.”  “They should be rebuilding our roads and bridges; laying down faster railroads and broadband; modernizing our schools – all the things other countries are already doing to attract good jobs and businesses to their shores.

4)      Extend the payroll tax cut.  Laughably inadequate to the scale of the problem.

5)      Increase taxes on the wealthy to something approaching the levels of the Clinton era.

6)      A bit more regulation of Wall Street.

In the face of the severest crisis since the Great Depression and at a time when serious observers know that technology and global trends can only make things worse, here’s how our faux president summarizes his solution: “Investing in things like education that give everybody a chance to succeed. A tax code that makes sure everybody pays their fair share. And laws that make sure everybody follows the rules. That’s what will transform our economy. That’s what will grow our middle class again.”  If it weren’t so sad, it would be laughable.  This is a patently inadequate status quo agenda that could have been offered by any past republican.  Obama should be ridiculed for offering such nonsense and we can only assume the world is heading into an ever darker future.

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