Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Repudiation and Succession

We can be excused our happiness for so many reasons, not the least being that just in his first week President Obama is proving to be just the leader we've expected. Jubilation's easy to come by when your team wins, and it fills out like a full sail when it carries the promise of a positive course for the world. Knowing that we will all sacrifice together for a better day makes it sweeter, though tougher: we're all going to carry a burden for the greater good, and at the finish, we'll have the right to be proud of ourselves, our fellow citizens, and our country. So the winning has passed and the work has started, and in ourselves we find the patriotism that has eluded our most cynical. So this is more than just a repudiation of the Bush era. It's much more than that.

At the base, we've repudiated more than just an administration. That sense of relief you feel, the tonnage lifted from your backs, is more than just a farewell to the most secretive, dangerous, subversive, underhanded eight years this country has ever seen. It is, and it's more than, the repudiation of a generation.

We've repudiated supply-side economics, that bastard grandchild of trickle-down. We've repudiated the religion of tax cuts and laissez-faire. With it went the fantasy that the free market cures all economic ills. Ayn Rand and her acolytes have sailed into irrelevance, the idea that somehow businesses will work for the betterment of humankind because the search for profits will lead us there discredited. Greed is an exhausted notion. Selfishness has gone with it.

Goodbye, the ideas that a government cannot care about and for its citizens. Take along with you the baggage of a generation's misdeeds: Enron, Bechtel, Halliburton, Iran-Contra, Abscam, Abramoff, "national malaise," stagflation, wiretapping, misbegotten wars, disrespect for our servicemen from the top, and a return to the law of the economic jungle. Put in your baggage Star Wars, MAD, neocolonialism, bellicosity, and rules-for-thee-but-not-for-me. Those notions are old now.

So it is with jingoism, the bitter distillation of patriotism, anger, and fear. So it is with anti-intellectualism and the rule of the brute. So it is with fear of dissent. So it is with the darkness of paranoia. So it is with the weary resignation that lets such things live.

Not everything is fixed, and not all evil is dead. It won't ever be. If we've learned anything since the last great hope, it's that human nature will always keep utopia bobbing just ahead of our fingertips. Forces that survive on the power of savage fear will always find food. But in this day, and in this time, though they don't realize it, they have become irrelevant. They're howling into the wind now, afraid that power will slip away from them. They don't know it already has.

But it's never far from their reach. Smoldering resentment is seductive. It nurses its anger on patient milk. That this country has passed through its greatest crisis of character since the war that nearly tore us apart is a reason to celebrate, and we should. We've looked national despair in the eye and found the will to stare it down. Now we can stand fast, work together, and hold on to the confidence we've found within ourselves.

We've let go, at long last, of a generation. We are the ones we've been waiting for.


cinderkeys said...

Hear hear.

The only thing I could possibly disagree with? That President Obama is proving to be just the leader we've expected. I voted for him. I was beyond excited when he won. And then he surprised me by living up to the hype.

I know that's a silly thing to say when he's been president for less than two weeks. But he's already started to do the important things he promised. Take THAT, Guantanamo Bay.

Frank Brummett said...

Deppity, you write well and think deeply. But you seem to forget/overlook the fact the Dems, have been in control of congress for most of the past 40 years(I know you'll correct me if I'm wrong), and Blarny Frank and his ilk were in charge of Sallie Mae and Freddie Mac for the last few years.The Dems want to blame Bush and the Republican for all that happened these last 8 years, but they do not want to take responsilbity for what they did and did not do.
I hope Obama does as well as you hope, but for a guy wanting change he picks a lot of Washingtonians for his government.
Obama vowed to go through the budgets and get rid of pork projects but most of the items in His Stimulas Package are budget type items. He obviously has a vision for this country and is working hard to accomplish it.
If tax increases are bad in a slow ecomomy why are they good in a better ecomomy?
Anyway, got a ? for you about Credit Default Swaps. As I understand them they are bets(or insurance) that an enterprise/company will fail. Surely someone must have bet on Madoff. Any idea who? It must have been a great payout. Maybe a family member?

DeppityBob said...

Thanks, Frank, and I am deeply sorry it took me this long to check back on my blog and see your response. As far as the last 40 years: Dems did indeed hold the House of Representatives for about 40 years, but the Senate has gone from GOP to Dem and back, notably during Reagan and Bush I. From 1994 to 2006, both houses of Congress have been Republican.

Barney Frank is not in charge of Sallie Mae or Freddie Mac. (And I think you meant Fannie Mae.) He is chair of a committee that oversees legislation regarding them, but that only came about since 2006 (since previous to that it was in GOP hands). Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are, to the best of my knowledge, directly overseen by the U.S. Treasury, and have their own day-to-day directors. Frank can only introduce and oversee legislation regarding them, which then comes up to a full vote of the House...IF it passes committee. It then of course has to be agreed upon by the Senate, and for it to become law, the President has to sign it--and from 2006 to Jan. 2009, that was George Bush. Please feel free to show me any Barney Frank-introduced legislation that became law signed by George Bush.

Credit default swaps... As I understand them, they only were available to mortgage investment houses. Given the incredible, really almost totally opaque, complexity of these, it's hard for anyone to understand them. (Seriously. Even professional economists have been baffled by how the whole shuffle works.) But if anyone bet on Madoff to fail, he's going to be cleaning up...as long as he didn't bet WITH Madoff. Bernie's not in a position to be paying off any bets anytime soon.