Thursday, September 22, 2011
IN MY OPINION (Column)
Off and Running for the Presidential Derby
By GERT K. HIRSCHBERG
Off to the races they go. The 2012 presidential election is still many months away. Yet, the incriminations and recriminations sound like the election is twenty-four hours from now. Why? Because the 2012 election is so economically driven. It is as though a giant sensitive nerve is set off. This, because the 1992 slogan is shouted again and again from the rooftops: It is the economy, stupid. How true.
The unemployment statistics have not been paralleled since the great depression of 1929. It is true that we have experienced wars and tragedies since then, but except for 9/11, these have been distant tragedies beyond our two Maginot lines, the Atlantic and the Pacific. This time the tragedies are hitting home and are devastating.
In an effort to stem the tide, an unpopular Congress and a President who has lost his glamour have turned their attention to the theories espoused by the classical economists. Whose theory is to prevail and whether any given theory is successful is yet to be determined by the electorate. Time is of the essence, and the suffering goes on.
With strong emotions, loud voices and apparent convictions, our politicians on both sides have preached that corporations are too rich, don’t pay enough (or any) taxes and that the unemployed and poor are heartlessly treated.
Does the electorate really have all the information to decide these life and death issues? Yes, but only if we can lower the rhetoric and put forth the true issues - free of any emotional appeals and honest in its disclosure of the facts.
Our great economists are divided on what is to be done. There was John Maynard Keynes whose views were adopted modernly by Paul Krugman and Robert Reich and indelibly adopted in Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. The theory is high government spending, creation of many jobs and deficit spending. A necessary by-product is inflation and government spending, government regulation and most of all, higher taxation and closing of tax loopholes. On the other hand, there is the conservative approach, articulated by Milton Friedman which claims its congenital ancestry to Adam Smith. This view is based upon the economic theory that taxation is evil and stymies business because the tax payer will not, if taxed, invest money which would stimulate the economy. These descriptions, simplistic as they are, may be misleading and are certainly too incomplete. They represent, however, a dichotomy which presently separates the Republican from the Democratic viewpoint. To submit these choices to the electorate may be misleading and therefore dangerous. Yet, these have been the arguments raised by the politicians and commentators.
The solution? None is clear cut. Certainly the social problems have not received their due respect. There are many others: Additional crimes, family break-ups, impacts upon education, both before and after high school levels. It must be realized that these major problems have a necessary and substantial impact upon the economic theories.
Perhaps a solution can be found unaffected by the rhetoric of politicians seeking to make their jobs more secure than the jobs being sought by their constituency.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company