Bush's Fuedalism; Obama's Socialism; the "N" word and Rush
In the past few weeks, in particular this weekend when L. Rushbaugh addressed the Conservative Pathetic Action Conference- some hanger on believers in the Bush administration from what I could tell watching on TV- many so-called conservatives have been claiming that President Obama is a socialist. That is a laughable concept rooted in paranoia, an inability to grasp basic math and a complete misunderstanding of who has ripped you off.
Let's address three simple points about what is going on right now:
1. Many people are afraid of a big black man as President. It's sad, but true. There is no way around it. In fact, many conservatives trot out racism as an attack on liberals and moderates- whom conservatives lump in with liberals, which is a little bothersome to this moderate, but at least they're not calling me a conservative. To accuse the people who voted for Obama as racist, is such a logical leap, that I am considering paying a visit to my college professor in Logic to figure it out. I'm pretty sure there isn't an if/then statement to describe this phenomenon, but I'll try. If you voted for Obama, and are not black, or even if you are, then you are a racist. I'm pretty sure that doesn't make sense, but it is the argument that Limbaugh and others (Sean "hey listen to me so I can get paid too" Hannity) have been trotting out since the primaries. I wish Rush would just use the "N" word or one of his stupid followers, maybe Joe the Plumber, would, because you know that's what they are thinking in one way or another (to be fair, in Rush's case, I think he's just profiteering on the ignorance of his audience as the Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele pointed out this week).
2. Now, let's go to basic math. During the Bush administration and a Republican Congress for six years the Federal Govt under ran up massive debts (note: I hear this is not a conservative principle). Also during this time period, Corporate governance rules were relaxed allowing corporate boards to be packed with friends of friends of Executives, which resulted in record bonuses during a period where the economy and markets were flat (this clearly did not start under Bush, as described in Liar's Poker, but it did accelerate with a weak Justice Dept under Bush). From 2002-2004, anti-fraud provisions on lending were relaxed via Federal Pre-emption from the Office of the Comptroller- a division of the Bush Treasury Dept, leading to writing of a massive number of failing loans. And the coup de gras, the Bush SEC allowed the big five (not so big anymore) investment banks- Bear, Lehman, Goldman, Merril and Morgan- to leverage their balance sheets at up to 40:1 in the words of them Goldman CEO Hank Paulson, to be competitive in the world financial markets (paraphrasing his Congressional testimony in 2003). Where conservatives are hanging their hats regarding mortgage defaults sky rocketing is on laws passed in the 1970s that resulted in no increase in default rates prior to 2002. Yeah, I know that doesn't make sense, but I've heard it a lot so I mention. I realize I didn't use any numbers really, but it seems conservatives can't remember numbers at the moment (probably because the numbers don't support their arguments) so I thought I'd stick with broad stroke mathematical concepts that I think should be easy to absorb. Besides, I'm an economist who manages money, so I like ideas too.
3. Well then, who has really ripped off the American people? Common sense tells me it isn't the guys who just took office. I look a little further back (which usually is where to look for today's problems) and I land at the guys who were responsible for everything in section 2 above- including Greenspan who had no concept of what he was perpetuating as he admitted a few months ago. Now I am not discounting that Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach Act (remember, I'm a moderate not a liberal so there is no political allegiance here) which was a precurser to this collapse. Clinton shares fault for that piece of legislation (which we could note Hank Paulson testified for), though I understand that nobody thought the idiocy or conspiracy or both I suppose, would happen under another administration. The result of the Bush policies, as talked about 4 years before they fully hit America in the pocket books (Altman's book: Public Affairs-1994), led to a neo-fuedal structure that is crushing the middle class right now.
As for Obama's socialism, if you actually read his budget ideas and the stimulus package, what you will see is that except for one omission (in my opinion, which I'll get to later) both are good pieces of imperfect legislative framework. Now I don't like the debt these bills will create for my grandkids- I don't mind the debt on the kids, as future generations should have to support their parents, but not their grandparents in this post Vatican II Catholic's mind. It's only natural since we're all dead in the end anyway (yes, I've revealed my Keynsian leanings there when things get rough, however, Friedman was right on how to behave when things are good- too bad Bush ignored Uncle Milt). Let's all face reality, a healthy short term dose of government spending is the only thing that can pull us out of this mess, that (getting to it later) and forcing mid-size banks to merge in return for the Federal govt providing partial loan guarantees- banks that don't want partial loan guarantees can go it alone, whatever the consequences- to bring back broad market lending.
Now, I seriously hope conservatives don't recoil, condemn me as a hater or whatever it is they do in their heads to validate the past eight years of them supporting the Republicans. I don't hate. I believe Conservatives and Republicans- though the two aren't tied at the hip and shouldn't be- have an important role in governing in this country by helping providing balance. Heck, I thought Ron Paul was a kook when one friend introduced him to me, now I think the guy is pretty close to on the money with a lot of things. Jimmy Rogers is somebody I idolize, if you listen to his economics, I don't think he qualifies as a liberal. What I think is that real conservatives have to distance themselves from the Bush ideals, while not piling onto the guy who hasn't had a chance yet, because that just seems like sour grapes. In that regard, Rush is completely wrong in starting to campaign against Obama today. It will backfire because most moderates who could vote either way in any election can see who really ripped them off, and we know it was the Bush administration and those CLAIMING to be conservatives, when actually they were fuedalists.