Monday, May 4, 2009

I'd Be Disappointed

were it not for the fact that I never expected anything different. President Obama's interview with David Leonhardt of the New York Times tells us that he doesn't seem to understand what caused our current economic crisis, and only plans to fiddle 'round the edges in reining in the financial elite. He's all for education (but then who is against education), which is very nice, but doesn't seem to understand that just because we have an educated population doesn't mean that we suddenly create the jobs that use that education, or jobs that pay wages commensurate with advanced educational levels. We could just have a lot of Wal Mart greeters who could discuss, oh, the nature of justice or quantum mechanics. There's nothing wrong with a society where Wal Mart greeters can discuss these topics, but ain't no way Wal Mart is going to pay for that education.

And while I agree with him that much of the manufacturing sector is gone forever, what that means is that we have to live with industries that are much less profitable than manufacturing. And this means that either we continue on our present path, where vast swathes of the economy depend on debt and bubbles, or the corporate sector earns substantially less in profit. And this would mean, for instance, that we would have to reorganize our retirement system, as it's presently constructed on investments in the stock market. (That should have frightened people 25 years ago, but whatever.)

Finally, he entirely misunderstands what's wrong with our health care system. We're paying way too much for hospitals, doctors, drugs and insurance companies. Other advanced capitalist countries provide better service to their entire populations by controlling these costs (and often by eliminating insurance providers altogether). Sure the drug companies and the hospitals and the doctors will whine and complain, as they do in other countries, but somehow they always manage to provide the service for what the government decides to pay.

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