Monday, April 25, 2005

Other Priorities

Paul Krugman once again hits the nail on the head. Team Bush waxes rosily about things economic, while in the real world plenty of people are a lot more concerned about, oh, trifling matters like mortgage/rent payments, utility bills, health care costs and other things the uber-rich can't bother themselves with:

Is the administration's obliviousness to the public's economic anxiety just partisanship? I don't think so: President Bush and other Republican leaders honestly think that we're living in the best of times. After all, everyone they talk to says so...

What's going on? Actually, it's quite simple: Mr. Bush and his party talk only to their base - corporate interests and the religious right - and are oblivious to everyone else's concerns.

The administration's upbeat view of the economy is a case in point. Corporate interests are doing very well. As a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out, over the last three years profits grew at an annual rate of 14.5 percent after inflation, the fastest growth since World War II.

The story is very different for the great majority of Americans, who live off their wages, not dividends or capital gains, and aren't doing well at all. Over the past three years, wage and salary income grew less than in any other postwar recovery - less than a tenth as fast as profits. But wage-earning Americans aren't part of the base.

The point is that people sense, correctly, that Mr. Bush doesn't understand their concerns. He was sold on privatization by people who have made their careers in the self-referential, corporate-sponsored world of conservative think tanks. And he himself has no personal experience with the risks that working families face. He's probably never imagined what it would be like to be destitute in his old age, with no guaranteed income.

This might explain Bush's ever sinking poll numbers, the Social Security Privitization juggarnaut "Like a Yugo" Tour, and the slow but growing realization that Operation Enduring Clusterfuck aka the invasion/occupation of Iraq likewise is entering the "push it, pull it, drag it" phase--with the exception being that there's not a used-war dealer in sight that will offer anything, much less a guaranteed trade for THAT particular rust-bucket.

But, like the Professor points out, among Bush's base, things are still looking good, provided they're diversified enough to weather the next down cycle. But average Americans, who are probably a bit more in debt than they'd like to admit (read: somewhere between their collective necks and eyeballs), might well have a harder time of it--especially after the signing of the new banckruptcy bill, the irony of which wasn't missed by Whiskey Bar, among others.

I guess perhaps the real question is whether or not Bush can somehow manage to keep the listing ship afloat long enough to draw his own generous, guaranteed government stipend come which case his place in history will be roughly akin to Calvin Coolidge, who, from what I remember, faded into doddering oblivion without really understanding why the economy tanked so dramatically following his stint as COIC, or whether we land heavy on the shoals before then, thereby sealing Dubya's fate as a 21st Century Herbert Hoover. Neither outcome is particularly flattering, although the former could be the GOP's way of trying to turn chicken-shit into chicken salad, i.e., the Rethugs would gladly pin the blame on the Democratic Donkey should one roll seven come the next election...

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