Reading an editorial I was struck at how deeply the preconceptions of late stage capitalism — post modernism — are embedded in everything. See my notes embedded below:
The Economy and the Blame - NYTimes.com
Mr. Obama is not free from responsibility for the economy. He did not push hard enough for a larger stimulus and more robust housing relief. He also changed focus prematurely from creating jobs through stimulus to reducing the deficit through spending cuts.
[By ‘responsibility for the economy’ translates to ‘Obama is not greasing the machine to get us back to higher growth’, because growth is essential. ‘Robust housing relief’ means figuring out a way to defuse the housing bust without subsidizing widespread default on monies owed by homeowners to investors. We are going to see millions more foreclosures.]
But Mr. Romney doesn’t criticize the president for those mistakes. He criticizes the use of government to help the economy — including the stimulus, the auto rescue, health care reform and financial regulation — all the while calling for more tax cuts and deregulation, policies that inflated the bubble and led to bust. He wants to couple those policies with savage budget cuts, fantasizing that a swift reduction in the deficit would boost economic growth.
[I agree with the editors that the austerians are wrong.]
Temporary factors, like the Midwest drought, are behind much of the recent weakness. But, over all, the economy is too weak to make steady progress on its own or to withstand premature austerity. A wobbly economy can easily be toppled by external events like the euro crisis, a downturn in China or violence in the Middle East.
[The midwest drought is not temporary. We are headed for a long period — potentially hundreds of years or more — of climate change that will lead to a growing region of significantly lower rainfall in much of the US. So the economic ‘weakness’ will be endemic.
The downturn in China and the euro crisis are not temporary, either. They are both hitting the limits of growth, just like us.
The economic arbitrage that has been fueling China’s growth is a fluke, an imbalance being exploited by the Chinese ruling class and global corporations. It’s not a function of better education, or richer energy reserves: it’s a trick. And now that the Chinese people are starting to demand civil rights — including more money, heath care, and a vote — the Chinese miracle will slow and then stop. It would be even more obvious if we were factoring in the endogenous costs of globalism, like the pollution and global warming involved. (PS Don’t forget the drought in China, too.)
The economy is inherently ‘wobbly’ — subject to rapid swings of increasing amplitude — because we are reaching the end of peak resources of all sorts: peak oil, peak water, and peak food, for example.]
Politicians can control fiscal policies. The challenge is to foster the recovery and then put the budget on a sustainable path. Meeting the first challenge requires a belief that government has a stimulative role to play at times of economic weakness and a willingness to play it, which only Mr. Obama has demonstrated. Meeting the budget challenge requires raising taxes, which Mr. Obama is prepared to do but Mr. Romney is not.
[There is no ‘recovery’ possible. We are going to have continued economic instability, and wrenching change in nearly every aspect of life. The simplistic tinkering with economic levers — like the Federal interest rate, or quantitative easing — have served only to convince investors to keep playing the game. Fundamental changes to the system are needed to transition to a sustainable, steady-state economy, but the NY Times is still buying into the postmodern neoliberal global economy mantra.]
He has assumed voters will reject Mr. Obama because of the weak economy. They may well re-elect him because the economy needs more help.
[I would have expected the NY Times and others on the liberal side of things to be stronger advocates for federal hiring: gearing up to the infrastructure push we need to transition away from the 20th century model of personally-owned cars, highways, and suburban sprawl to a 21st century model of mass transit, shared vehicles, and increasing urban density. But they are gradualists, and believe too much in free markets.]
My hope is that more people begin to reject the official version of the future that dominates policy discussion, even in the liberal wing of the ruling elite. The official future is something like this:
Except it’s all wrong. It’s not temporary. Welcome to the Postnormal.