Saturday, December 19, 2009

More "Change" We Can Believe In

It looks like Obama has joined the “Bash-the-Victims” movement that is one of the right’s talking points. However, he’s gone the right one better by giving it a populist spin.

This happened during his radio address last Saturday in which he praised the House passage of a Wall Street friendly banking bill, a bill that is high on spin and low on reform.

In his speech, Obama seemed to lash out at the banks when he condemned the “irresponsibility of large financial institutions on Wall Street that gambled on risky loans and complex financial products, seeking short-term profits and big bonuses with little regard for long-term consequences.” What he forgot to mention is that the “reform” bill will allow many of these practices to continue in all of their unregulated glory. But, when has spin ever spoken the truth?

Having given Wall Street a tiny tap on the wrist, he proceeded to stomp the shit out of Wall Street’s victims by decrying the millions of Americans who “borrowed beyond their means and bought homes they couldn’t afford, and assumed that housing prices would always rise and the day of reckoning would never come.”

Of course, he conveniently ignored that fact that the public did so because swarms of experts assured them that it was financially sound to do so because “housing prices would always rise.” This assertion came on the heels of decades of preaching to the public that consumption was the road to salvation. It was a nice little sleight of hand in which the decline in the public’s standard of living was concealed by forcing to maintain their old standard by plunging deeper into debt.

The only sin committed by the public was putting too much faith in “experts,” something they had been conditioned to do from birth. If there is a lesson to be had out of this entire debacle it is that experts are to be viewed with the most profound skepticism and their utterance are assumed to be incorrect until proven otherwise.

The irony of the bill is that it would not bar financial speculation; the speculators would just have to tell us what they were up to. It’s kind of like telling a criminal to reveal his crime, but promising him he won’t be prosecuted. It makes a break-in much easier to endure.

Once again we have another change we can believe in.


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David M said...

Although some of us saw through the thin veil of "change we can believe in" early on, even now, with the Nobel speech, the announcement of sending more troops to AFPAK, the delay of troop withdrawal from Iraq, sabre rattling over Iran, continued support for Isreal while they persecute the poor palestinians and on and on, most progressives and left wing knuckle-brains say they are waiting for him to keep his promises. Is there something in the air? My only answer is they secretly support these actions and policies but are to cowardly to come-out and say so. Maybe if they actually said it, they would have to think about it, and it would bother their conscience.

Ivan Hentschel said...

From the very begnning of his populist rise, there was a "fabled" air given to Obama, a premonition-like grant of future greatness and hoped-for grandeur, much like the premature and recklesly granted Nobel prize.He has been enveloped in a mytholgy or imagined accomplishments. This may be, at least in part, because our nation (and indeed much of the world) yearned for something truly new, promising, optimistic and upifting. But granting the status of mythmaker without evidence or clearly defined outcomes from which to learn is risky business, indeed.

The ancient Greeks (and other early cultures) used fables (and their parent, mythology) as instructional devices, with which to teach about, learn from and direct future behavior, oftentimes concerning the downfall after exercising greed, avarice, pride and sloth. Just remember, for a moment, Aespo's fable about the tortoise and the hare. There is no such learning curve or instructive quality to the mythological character heaped upon the Obama presidency, in error, too early.

Thre is nothing "fabled" or meritorious in the actions (or inactions)of a President who speaks falsehoods and attempts to cover ugly realities of failure and ill-will with fluff and lofty rhetoric. The tortoise, in his view, is allowed to win through guile and deception and we are supposed to be happy about it.The President falsifies the truth and ugly and errant behavior is reinforced. The President has become an enabler of the fiduciary drunks of Wall St (and monetary addicts in othe arenas, such as health care and the ecology.

This President has wrought no change, just a game of cups or three-card monty. Change and progress are all illusionary in his world, and we have let him get away with it by pretending that he is sitting atop Mt. Olympus.It is time to stop believing in Santa Claus.

If there is a lesson, or moral, to be learned from this contemporary fablization, it is that you should not put your faith in false gods. We should be both old enough and wise enough not to fall for hucksterism.