Our neoliberal president
The percentage of the US population that’s employed today is lower than when Barak Obama took office and is showing no evidence of improvement. The U-6 measure of unemployment, currently stagnating at 15.8%, is likewise worse than when this administration began. The official poverty rate in the US in 2009, according to a September, 2010 Census Bureau report, was 14.3% – 9.4% for non-Hispanic whites, 25.8% for Blacks and 20.7% for all children under 18. The total number in poverty is higher than at any time since 1959 while the percentage level is trendless since the 1980 right wing onslaught. The numbers today, of course, can only be worse.
Meanwhile, the always noxious Thomas Friedman tells us today in the New York Times that
I’ve been working on a book that required talking to a lot of entrepreneurs and have been struck by how many told me some version of: “I used the recession to downsize and get really efficient. None of those jobs are coming back. I am doing a little hiring now, but for people with more skills.”
Given all this, it’s no wonder those on the progressive left feel so disgusted by the sad joke that is our President of Hope and Change. What is Obama’s philosophy for advancing a prosperous and fair society? It’s nothing other than neoliberal Reaganism:
“Government is not, and should not be, the main engine of job-creation in this country,” Obama said in his weekly address on the radio and Internet. “That’s the role of the private sector.”
Such a statement could have been pulled from any republican president since Hoover. Don’t blame me – there’s nothing I can do! But Mr. President, what if the private sector isn’t up to the job? When the private sector is unable to provide full employment at livable wages, as is almost always the case, what then? The silence is deafening.
Princeton University moral philosopher and black activist Cornel West has been widely condemned for his harsh criticisms quoted in a recent article. But on his core point, what’s to argue with?
Obama is a ““a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats. And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.”
“I was thinking maybe he has at least some progressive populist instincts that could become more manifest after the cautious policies of being a senator and working with [Sen. Joe] Lieberman as his mentor,” he says. “But it became very clear when I looked at the neoliberal economic team. The first announcement of Summers and Geithner I went ballistic. I said, ‘Oh, my God, I have really been misled at a very deep level.’
‘I have been thoroughly misled, all this populist language is just a facade. I was under the impression that he might bring in the voices of brother Joseph Stiglitz and brother Paul Krugman I figured, OK, given the structure of constraints of the capitalist democratic procedure that’s probably the best he could do. But at least he would have some voices concerned about working people, dealing with issues of jobs and downsizing and banks, some semblance of democratic accountability for Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats who are just running amuck. I was completely wrong.”
“It became very clear to me as the announcements were being made,” he says, “that this was going to be a newcomer, in many ways like Bill Clinton, who wanted to reassure the Establishment by bringing in persons they felt comfortable with and that we were really going to get someone who was using intermittent progressive populist language in order to justify a centrist, neoliberalist policy that we see in the opportunism of Bill Clinton. It was very much going to be a kind of black face of the DLC [Democratic Leadership Council].”
“This was maybe America’s last chance to fight back against the greed of the Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats, to generate some serious discussion about public interest and common good that sustains any democratic experiment,” West laments. “We are squeezing out all of the democratic juices we have. The escalation of the class war against the poor and the working class is intense. More and more working people are beaten down. They are world-weary. They are into self-medication. They are turning on each other. They are scapegoating the most vulnerable rather than confronting the most powerful. It is a profoundly human response to panic and catastrophe. I thought Barack Obama could have provided some way out. But he lacks backbone.
“It is a truth that is against the thick lies of the mainstream. In telling that truth we become so maladjusted to the prevailing injustice that the Democratic Party, more and more, is not just milquetoast and spineless, as it was before, but thoroughly complicitous with some of the worst things in the American empire. I don’t think in good conscience I could tell anybody to vote for Obama. If it turns out in the end that we have a crypto-fascist movement and the only thing standing between us and fascism is Barack Obama, then we have to put our foot on the brake. But we’ve got to think seriously of third-party candidates, third formations, third parties.
Barak Obama has proven to be a sickening fraud to those who hoped for a sharp break from neoliberalism and he in no way deserves re-election. His only hope, a la West, is that the sole alternative will be something down the lines of a Hitler.