Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cacophony of Complaints

Everybody's angry. Republicans, Democrats, Liberals & of course, those nutty people on the Right. Fingers pointed, pitchforks raised, death threats, the blame game is in full gear. The anger, frustration and fear -- no terror -- about the financial crisis have reduced us to a babbling bunch of babies.

Our troubles are deep, the solution uncertain and the resolution a long time off. Of course, it has taken us 20 years or so to reach this critical point, and although we understand that at some level, we want the problems solved now. Obama may have had nothing to do with creating the crisis, but we expect him to fix it immediately, now that we've actually acknowledged that it's happened.

Congress, who preceded the Obama Administration, is perfectly happy to demand that the Administration come up with the fix without any assistance from that august legislative body, other than to fail to provide the laws requested by the Administration. Despite that they are more than happy to accuse him of not dealing with the issues needed to fix the problems we face. The GOP, of course, is sitting on the sidelines, doing its Christian duty, by praying for us all. Unfortunately, the prayers are for the failure of fix proposed by Obama, since that is the only savior for the party of NO. See The End is Near.

The overall signal from all sides, to mix a few metaphors, is that you shouldn't listen to the "rosy forecasts," since the hard times have only just begun. Why the Banking Crisis Is Far From Over.

Even those pundits I respect and admire are harshly critical of the Administration's efforts to fix the economy. See e,g., Booman Tribune who has been exploring this issue, Catching the Populist Wave and A Response to a Response.

For example, according to Frank Rich, Obama isn't fully channeling the anger of the mob and is faced with his own Katrina moment. Has a ‘Katrina Moment’ Arrived?. It seems that he and other liberals believe that it is necessary to stoke the fires of fury, not calm them. The virtues of public anger and the need for more. While I agree in principle with their views, that the corruption that was created by the failure to regulate the financial industry for many years has caused or contributed to the depression we are in, and surely the the situation needs to be corrected, but stirring up fear and anger will not fix the immediate depressed economy, it will only exacerbate it.

Before the Administration's financial plan is even released, never mind implemented, Paul Krugman has warned us of it's failure. Despair over financial policy. See also, Bigger Than the Both of Us. John Cole of Balloon Juice sums it up the chorus of liberal complainers about the Administration's plan aptly, The Geithner Plan:

If this were a medical emergency, it appears it would look something like this:

The Illness- reckless and irresponsible betting led to huge losses
The Diagnosis- Insufficient gambling.
The Cure- a Trillion dollar stack of chips provided by the house.
The Prognosis- We are so screwed.

While I must say that more than anyone, I trust Krugman, I'm not totally convinced that his way is the one true way either. If I was sure that Obama's proposal would fail, that's one thing, but I'm willing to guess that there is more than one answer to the problem.

What does concern me is the the cacophony of complaints itself is creating the crisis of confidence that will definitely exacerbate or prolong the economic disaster we are in. Part of the way out is to instill a form of confidence in the banks, the market, the economy. That can't happen in this corrosive environment that we're mired in.

Last week, Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke made a comment that I thought was especially pertinent. Whatever you think of his economic policies, his observations on 60 Minutes struck me:

"What are the dangers now? What keeps you up at night?" Pelley asked.

"I think the biggest risk is that, you know, we don't have the political will. We don't have the commitment to solve this problem, and that we let it just continue. In which case, you know, we can't count on recovery," Bernanke said.

The Fed estimates the wealth of American families fell 18 percent in 2008, the worst since the Great Depression. (Emphasis added)

Bad enough the GOP and right wing pundits are ranting, but the cries of the left are contributing to the din. The tenor & level of vitriol is disturbing -- you would think that the Obama Administration is the enemy, intentionally determined to crater the country. To destroy the government, to finish the job begun by the Bush Administration.

The best thing that the Obama Administration has going for it is the fact that it has shown the naysayers in the past, who have questioned the wisdom of a position adopted by Obama, that his vision often works when given time. That's precisely how he got to be President against all odds. While he's only been President for a minute, during the campaign, Obama's team has consistently taken a longer view of a situation and has often been correct, despite misgivings from the left and condemnation from the right. Recall the moaning and groaning that preceded the passage of the stimulus package. What a Loser. Because of this, if for no other reason, I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Obama Looks for Calm in a Firestorm.

Finally, unlike other bloggers on both the left & right who are sure of the correctness of their opinions, I know that I certainly don't have a better plan that I'm sure will succeed over any other proposal.



Susan said...

I agree with you re having confidence in Paul Krugman. And I am always glad to read what you think about him -- or anything really. But consider this: when linking just now there were 188 comments on his column on NYT. Is this degree of people needing to express their view on anything or everything to the world at large a good development? Whatever happened to quiet conversations with family or friends? Or just having thoughts one can keep to oneself?

JudiPhilly said...

That is somewhat what I was referring to -- all of the moaning & groaning that's been going on. Of course, I suppose you could make the same comment about my blog.

The fact that people are engaged is a good thing, but the fact that they have begun to turn into an angry mob is not. People are scared & angry, which I understand, but there are too many nuts out there (with too many guns to go with them), which makes me scared about what they are capable of.

Susan said...

Theew is a difference between your keeping a blog and someone making a comment on something just read somewhere. What you do is thoughtful writing, albeit w/o a third party publisher. But take this particular Krugman piece and deep public concern out of the picture. Then what we have is the desire of hundreds of people to comment instantly on something just read that struck them as interesting. Why? Because they can?

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