Thursday, November 6, 2008

Thomas Friedman: Vote for ( )

Although I disagree with many of his conclusions, Thomas Friedman does get this election contest partially correct in an op-ed from 11/1/08.

Here’s what strikes me this election eve: I can’t remember a presidential campaign that was so disconnected from the actual challenges of governing that will confront the winner the morning after. When this election campaign began two years ago, the big issue was how and for how long do we continue nation-building in Iraq. As the campaign comes to a close, the big issue is how and at what sacrifice do we do nation-building in America.

Unfortunately, you’d barely know that from the presidential debates. Watching them in the context of the meltdown of the financial system was like watching a game show where the two contestants were kept off-stage in a soundproof booth and brought out to address the audience without knowing the context.

Isn't that exactly what I've been saying??

Since the last debate, John McCain and Barack Obama have unveiled broad ideas about how to restore the nation’s financial health. But they continue to suggest that this will be largely pain-free. McCain says giving everyone a tax cut will save the day; Obama tells us only the rich will have to pay to help us out of this hole. Neither is true.

We are all going to have to pay, because this meltdown comes in the context of what has been “perhaps the greatest wealth transfer since the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917,” says Michael Mandelbaum, author of “Democracy’s Good Name.” “It is not a wealth transfer from rich to poor that the Bush administration will be remembered for. It is a wealth transfer from the future to the present.”

Mr. Friedman, I don't think anyone can argue that we've seen a transfer of wealth from rich to poor. Not only have we destroyed the economic foundation for future generations, under Bush we've ALSO seen the biggest transfer of wealth from the lower and middle classes to the upper classes, leading to record income inequality and shocking lack of class mobility. The rich certainly haven't been paying their share. And you don't really believe that corporations are going to pitch in and pay taxes to help out, do you??

Never has one generation spent so much of its children’s wealth in such a short period of time with so little to show for it as in the Bush years. Under George W. Bush, America has foisted onto future generations a huge financial burden to finance our current tax cuts, wars and now bailouts. Just paying off those debts will require significant sacrifices. But when you add the destruction of wealth that has taken place in the last two months in the markets, and the need for more bailouts, you understand why this is not going to be a painless recovery.

No, indeed, this will not be a painless recovery. And "significant sacrifices" is an understatement. In an economic blood-letting like this, many are saying it could be the "end of prosperity". Period.

The Bush team leaves us with another debt — one to Mother Nature. We have added tons more CO2 into the atmosphere these last eight years, without any mitigation effort. As a result, slowing down climate change in the next eight years is going to require even bigger changes and investments in how we use energy.

Hmm, I wonder if that's due to the fact that Bush's talking points on the environment have been "deny, deny, deny". Or maybe that's because it's part of a wider Republican strategy to attempt to discredit environmental warnings? And now that peak-oil concepts are proving true, the question has become "Can we do anything fast enough to avert disaster?"

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