Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Obama and Blacks

I am surprised at how bitter I have become about the Obama administration's failings and its continued popularity, especially among people who it is harming more than most. Ah, well. More food for corvids.

A slightly different version of this got me banned from Ta-Nehisi Coates comments. I will therefore say here that anyone who uses these remarks in support of racism, to claim that Obama is racist, or to claim that I believe Obama is racist is twisting my words, and doing so without my support. The final question is not to me rhetorical.

The fact of Obama's blackness is an enormous boon to black people everywhere in the world. It is such an enormous symbolic victory, to have a black President of the United States of America. And yet Obama's economic and immigration policies fall hard on US blacks. Statistics show that blacks were among the groups hardest hit by the mortgage crisis and that the current high rate of unemployment is also hitting blacks very hard. The Obama administration has done very little about either problem. Obama's intensification of immigration enforcement has granted legitimacy to anti-Muslim bigots and anti-Latino racists, and this, in turn, supports all racism.

I am reminded of Ronald Reagan, who Obama admires. Reagan played the "man of the people" for the white working class, all the while supporting policies that impoverished that class. And now we have Obama, standing as the voice of US blacks and all the while supporting policies that are continuing to impoverish and harm US blacks.

Does the content of Obama's character matter more than the color of his skin?

Update, the following morning: I find the above incredibly sad. It is only one betrayal in a global pattern of betrayals: so many democratically elected leaders are acting against the interests and, often, the expressed will of their publics, but Obama was elected with so much hope and with so much love and--this?

There's more, I think, to say about the betrayals of democracy of the past 30 years, but right now I am too sick at heart.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Two Letters to My Senator, Who Is On the Super-Committee

These were written in response to a letter which began:
Thank you for contacting me regarding the recent passage of an increase in the United States' debt ceiling. It is good to hear from you.

I share your concerns about our nation's growing national debt and deficit, and I believe that we must to work together to bring down the debt responsibly. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to not burden them with unsustainable debt.

One I sent, one I didn't. The first version was titled, "The Cuts Have Your Name on Them." The second one was titled, "Raise your Voice!"

They both had the same beginning:

The short-term deficit is not a problem. The head of the Congress own Budget Office has told you so. If you don't want to listen to him, you might try the IMF. If even that is too much trouble, look up Hoover in 1930, FDR in 1937, or Ireland and the UK right now.

Austerity doesn't work in this kind of depression. This is well documented.

"The Cuts Have Your Name on Them" went on:

And there have been riots in London.

And I hold you accountable for any deaths that come from the cuts that are planned. If my family members die from Medicare cuts, or Medicaid cuts, I will remember that those cuts have your name on them.

And I do not think I am alone.

"Raise your Voice" ended:
Maybe the Democrats are as weak as their apologists claim. Maybe there is nothing you, or your party leadership, can do but accede to the demands of the radical right. But even the weakest politician has a voice. Use yours!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Capitalism 2.0

Or perhaps "New Capitalism."

This was the name we came up with at the end of Thursday night's Virtually Speaking. Jay and Stuart we arguing for rehabilitating capitalism with regulation and some direct governmental programs like health care. I suspect we are past trying that trick again, but maybe if we start in that direction, we will end up with something worthwhile. Anything has to be better than continuing as we have.

So what is Capitalism 2.0? Well, Jay and Stuart didn't say. So I'm going to croak something out.

First, comprehensive regulation of banking on Keynesian lines, by which is meant regulation of "any institution that borrows short-term and uses the funds to make longer-term, illiquid investments" (Krugman, "The Profession and the Crisis," link.) This is not quite, as Keynes suggested, "euthanasia of the rentier" (Keynes, The General Theory, link), but it is the domestication of the rentier.

Second, comprehensive national regulation of limited-liability business organizations, corporations. The legal recognition that legal artificial persons are different from natural persons, and have only the rights granted by law and charter.

Third, creation of new social institutions:

  1. A highly-regulated comprehensive health care system.
  2. Unions, not as an adjunct to commercial corporations, but as full partners in corporate operations.
  3. Environmental protection organizations at all levels of government.
Now, this is a very broad-brush program, and a very radical one. Every element is subject to rethinking, and I would very much like input from Jay and Stuart, as well as experts in the fields covered.


[minor changes made the day after and the day after that]

Friday, September 9, 2011

More Messaging

That's my reaction to the speech yesterday.

There's at most 10% of the needed stimulus, and plans for five times as many cuts. But, hey, Obama said "jobs, jobs, jobs." It will help him get re-elected and, as far as I can tell, in Obama's mind, getting re-elected is more important than 15% unemployment.

That was a more bitter croak than I expected to write. But it seems that Obama, like his model Reagan, is much more concerned with his public image than anything that is good for the USA. Are we to take him, then, as a man dominated by the kind of all-consuming vanity which usually afflicts actors? Perhaps yes. He seems to want to look presidential rather than be President.