Saturday, February 7, 2009

Economic Sense

It occurs to me that Washington politicians in general, Republican and Democrat alike, can't get ahold of the real economic problem we face for three reasons.

One, they aren't all that affected by it themselves, because they are either wealthy, or living in a city where there are few signs of a recession. Furthermore, they've all got healthy economic futures, almost without exception. A recession/depression just doesn't touch them very much.

Two, no matter which party they belong to, they have been bought off by the powers that be, with all the political contributions that come in from the financial sector, the lawyers, and the big corporations. They may deny that this is true, but we all know how money affects us subconsciously. (Think Tom Daschle.)

And a third reason may be that they are averse to anything but establishment, 'conventional wisdom', which is not diagnosing the economic problem very well these days because it cannot think outside the box.

Having said that, I do sense traces of good thinking in some of what Obama has talked about, especially his desire to use the 'stimulus' to invest in new clean energy sources, which would actually make good economic sense, in that it could reduce the outflow of dollars to the oil exporting nations and put them to good use here at home. And to the extent that the 'stimulus' dollars' are invested in needed infrastructure repairs, that too has a positive long-term effect.

But tax cuts that just go predominantly to upper-class folks, and which only increase our national debt? That makes no sense at all to me in terms of economic transformation.

I like the suggestion made by someone recently to put a national 'property tax' on the wealth holdings of the billionaires, who have made out like bandits in the last 30 years of our faux-prosperity. A 10-20 percent tax on their billions would go a long way toward getting the money needed to restructure the economy, and frankly, they wouldn't even miss it. How many billions do you need to live fabulously well, anyway? (And inso far as 'property rights' go, if the nation can take my money legitimately to wage war and send our military all over the globe, then it can take my money to repair bridges, build a new electric grid, and other public goods too.) If we can't retrieve the billions in bonuses that went to our greedy morons in the financial industry, then we can get it back another way.

Also, cutting out a few of the weapons systems that the military-industrial-congressional complex has ordered up would also help. Tell me, did all those wonderful, new, sophisticated jets, full of complicated equipment, great new weapons systems, and anti-detection devices, do anything whatsoever to keep those commercial airliners from hitting the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on 9-11?

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