Still Banging on the Magneto
I saw Paul Krugman on the Lehrer News Hour three weeks ago describing the US economy as a basically sound (if sputtering) internal combustion engine, irrevocably systemic as the financial system was described as the engine’s “magneto,” we just had to fix that magneto and we’d be all right.
I was amused at the analogy at the time, for the internal combustion is lousy mechanism have to get rid of as soon as possible, but then—as now—I don’t think the Big C of Capitalism is threatened as a governing economic model, simply because the human race doesn’t have a viable alternative. We’ll bang on the magneto and then keep a basically free market system.
Word from Krugman this morning is that our earnest mechanics Paulson and Bernanke have botched the job, they restored no confidence in Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac and fucked up and the bank bailout too, they made no rule the banks must lend the money so they’re hoarding our cash, of course.
This was always my worst fear all along, not that trying wasn’t important or necessary, but that we didn’t have the Federal talent to pull it off, at the same time setting monumental economic precedents with no thought at monstrous taxpayer expense. When have these Republicans done anything right in the last eight years?
Before we go back to magneto I think it’s very important to briefly illuminate the issue of “sputtering” in the engine. The entire economic model runs on an energy system we have to junk. Healthcare is completely dysfunctional, transportation horrifyingly dangerous with automotive production completely in the tank, aerospace is hurting badly, our entire agricultural system needs an overhaul, education needs a lot more resources…
Michigan lawmakers have already gone to Treasury to ask for an automotive bailout. Americans should get used to the idea that although the Big C is here to stay, well, for a while in certain industries the rules are off for a while. What those industries will be and how it will actually happen I have no idea, but if we ever do get that infuriating magneto to get in line we are still in a world of hurt.
Americans should also mentally throw out the tentative plans put forth on the candidates websites, as soon as the election is over an implacable DC sentence will be used many, many times in the following weeks: that was then. The Bush administration did not use the tools they were given, things have continued to fall apart, and extraordinary measures are about to be put in place, nothing like was bandied about on the campaign trail.
At this point, thank God, it appears America is going to entrust Barack Obama and the Democratic Party for those trying times. The United States better come through on that, for John McCain, Alan Greenspan and the Republicans got us into this horrifying mess, electing them would only mean more futile banging on the magneto, all else sliding into chaos.