Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The lie of a right-wing population in USA

The idea that there is a meaningful political distinction between left and right in USA is pretty absurd when you think about it.  Most folks are so hopelessly uninformed that any coherent political philosophy is quite literally, impossible.  So in the absence of any historically informed definitions, left and right are now usually associated with gonad issues like gay marriage or abortion.  Serious economics has been removed from the political debate for so long, only us oldsters can even remember when there were defenders of a "left" economics.

My example is pretty instructive.  I was raised by fundamentalist evangelical Protestants.  I am a technologically literate white male with a college education in the sciences.  I am a patented inventor with entrepreneurial instincts who has managed production.  If I were German with a background like that, I could easily be a member of Angela Merkel's center-right government.  Yet here in USA, I am so far to the left of the supposedly uber-liberal Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party that we are no longer on speaking terms.

I hardly believe I am alone.  In issue after issue, if party labels and buzzwords are removed, the USA public is FAR to the left of the political establishment when it comes to economics. Just two days ago, I posted a report that claimed that 92% of the population preferred a Swedish-style income distribution.
The 'rightwing backlash' that never was
The consensus is that angry voters are moving rightward. But it's nothing Democrats couldn't fix with a dose of economic populism
Mark Weisbrot, Wednesday 22 September 2010 18.30 BST
Is America in the grip of a rightwing backlash that will hit the November elections like a hurricane?
This narrative is gathering steam. It is fed not only by the minority partisan rightwing media, but also its majority "liberal" counterpart, which loves a horse race and is fascinated with the Tea Party, even if it isn't so eager for the Republicans to take congress.
Regardless of the outcome, 90%-plus of the pundits and press will cheese up the same tired old cliché in their post-election analysis: the Democrats were punished (they will inevitably lose at least some seats in congress) because they tried to go too far, too fast and too left for the inherently conservative American masses. And this junk will be consumed for years, adding another layer of fat to the lazy couch potato that is American journalism's "conventional wisdom".
How about another narrative that makes more sense?
Let's start with the economic issues, since the economy was the number one issue for likely voters in the latest New York Times/CBS poll. Our worst and longest recession since the Great Depression was caused by a real estate bubble that accumulated and burst before Obama was elected. The Democrats passed a stimulus package that was much too small to compensate for the resulting loss of private spending.
As my colleague Dean Baker has pointed out, the collapse of this bubble would be expected to knock about $1.2tn annually off of private demand. This is about eight times the size of government stimulus spending when we subtract the budget cuts and tax increases of state and local governments (special thanks to the Republicans for cutting $100bn from the stimulus bill that would have gone straight to municipal governments to prevent some of this). more

Auerback: Where is Huey Long When You Need Him?
By Marshall Auerback, a portfolio strategist .hedge fund manager, and Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow
My friend, Yves Smith, has posed the question as to why there is no political outlet for the anger on the left. In other words, where are today’s Huey Longs when you need them? It’s become patently obvious to anybody with half a brain and a pulse that President Obama’s “progressivism” has more in common with Mussolini’s corporatism than anything remotely connected to a genuinely progressive agenda.
If you think I’m exaggerating, I suggest you read Denis Mack Smith’s excellent accounts of Il Duce’s tenure in Smith’s “Modern Italy: A Political History”, or his biography, “Mussolini”. Both works describe a country which, while claiming to reduce an inflated bureaucracy, needed to do precisely the opposite in order to reward personal “clients” and followers. Both books also recount that in spite of the efforts of Mussolini’s first Fascist Finance Minister De’Stefani’s efforts to curb tax evasion and limit stock exchange speculation, his efforts were constantly thwarted by other political cronies of Il Duce, as well as Mussolini himself, who soon allowed the majority of his Cabinet to discredit one of the few competent ministers, who was of above average intelligence and competence (Elizabeth Warren, watch out).
Yet today we are being confronted by the sight of a desperate President, hoping to re-engage with a thoroughly dispirited base. President Obama recently told black leaders that he wanted their support to “guard the change” he was allegedly delivering. That would be the “change” which essentially perpetuated the TARP bailouts initiated by former President Bush and former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson? Or the health care “reform” bill which will shovel billions of dollars into the private insurance industry with little in the way of a quid pro quo for improved HEALTH CARE? Or the “change” which brought us the supposed withdrawal from Iraq even as the Pentagon conceded that “nothing will change” – a direct quote from the Army’s chief spokesman in Iraq (although cited in a Colorado Springs Gazette dispatch which probably explains the lack of national commentary). What about the “change” in a corrupt narco-state like Afghanistan, where, the Obama Administration has concluded that its war strategy is fundamentally sound and that a December review, once seen as a pivotal moment, is now unlikely to yield any major alteration in policy?
And the President wonders why there is an enthusiasm gap amongst his base? Or why there is a smoldering anger which continues to manifest itself through the rise of the Tea Party movement? At a townhall meeting last week, Obama told the audience he relishes the opportunity to get out of Washington and talk with regular people. Hmm…one wonders. As Bloomberg’s Margaret Carlson recently pointed out, Velma Hart told the President that she’s “exhausted of defending you,” “deeply disappointed with where we are right now,” and waiting for him finally “to change things in a meaningful way for the middle class.” more

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