Thursday, June 10, 2010
Ode to Obama
"First came a stimulus bill that, while aimed mainly at ending a deep recession, also set out to remake the nation's education system and vastly expanded scientific research. Then President Obama signed a health care bill that was the biggest expansion of the safety net in 40 years. And now Congress is in the final stages of a bill that would tighten Wall Street's rules and probably shrink its profit margins. If there is a theme to all of this, it has been to try to lift economic growth while also reducing income inequality. ... By focusing on long-term problems, Mr. Obama and the Democrats have given less than their full attention to the economy's current weakness and turned off a good number of voters. ... Still, the turnabout since Jan. 20--the first anniversary of Mr. Obama's inauguration and the day after Scott Brown, a Republican, won a Senate seat in liberal Massachusetts--has been remarkable. ... Today, he looks more like a liberal answer to Ronald Reagan. ... Every major piece of the Obama agenda is meant, in part, to push back against inequality. ... The financial regulation bill, meanwhile, would take several steps likely to reduce Wall Street's profits--and Wall Street has created more multimillionaires in recent decades than any other industry. ... Most striking, the administration is trying to improve public education by introducing more market competition. ... These education changes--combined with increased spending on science research--are meant to lift economic growth. ... Economists have long considered education and technology to be main ingredients in growth", my emphasis, David Leonhardt (DL) at the NYT, 22 May 2010, link:
What can I say? Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism wanted this pieced shredded, so here goes. "In the [1930s], [FDR] created the [SEC] and [FDIC]. Now [America] was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the [American continent], and the Spirit of [Obama] was hovering over the waters. And [Obama] said let there be [a stimulus bill], and there was a [stimulus bill]. [Obama] saw the [stimulus bill] was good, and he separated the [United States] from the [recession]. [Obama] called the [stimulus bill] '[American Recovery and Reinvestment Act]' and the darkness he called 'recession'. And there was evening and, and there was morning--the first [few months]. And [Obama] said, 'Let there be [no] expanse between the [ethnic groups educational attainments] to separate [group] from [group]. So [Obama and Duncan] made the expanse [shrink] and [no longer] separated the [group] under the expanse from the [group] above it. And it was so. [Obama] called the [ended] expanse [academic achievement]. And there was evening and morning--the next few months", Genesis, 1:1-10 (NIV) with apologies to the original.
DL's piece is so bad. It isn't even good pro-Obama propaganda. It's almost a parody. The current "Wall Street reform bill" looks like a show piece to mollify the peasants with pitchforks. Expand scientific research while reducing NASA spending? Sure. What big expansion of the "safety net"? It's a rearrangement: kill old white women and expand medical care for illegal aliens and their children. Focusing on "long-term problems"? The "never let a crisis go to waste crowd"? What about the combined social security and medicare actuarial deficits variously estimated at $60-115 trillion? His education bill is just another teachers' unions payoff. It will not improve education in the US, which is a big waste of money. We need more, not fewer dropouts. Voxeu had an interesting 18 May 2010 piece on education, link: http://voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/5058. One author, Robert Barro is a Harvard economics professor. The other, Jong-Wha Lee, got his PhD at Havard. "The estimates for the group of advanced countries, East Asia and the Pacific, and South Asia are the highest at 13.3%. In contrast, the estimated rates of return are only 6.6% in Sub-Saharan Africa and 6.5% in Latin America". Hmm. Hey Barro and Lee, have you read IQ and the Wealth of Nations? I think I can explain what you found! For that matter, have you read Vance Packard's The Status Seekers, 1959, about degrees and "signalling"? The bloom is falling off the educational rose.