The US ‘debt ceiling deal’ simply reinforces that, for sensible people, Obama is definitely not ‘the guy’ we hoped he would be. And never was. Way back when first elected, he appointed Steven Chu as his Energy Secretary, and one of the first things Chu said was that California was running out of water and agriculture there couldn’t last much longer – and the cities were in big trouble, too. He was muzzled after that. That was an ominous sign that Obama was not much more tolerant of truth than Bush II.
Since then, of course, Obama has greatly expanded the unconstitutional presidential powers that Bush II had no right taking in the first place, and it’s been one cave-in after another. In fact, it seems clear to me that Obama is not so much caving in to the radical right but seems…fine with much of what they propose. How else to describe all his pre-emptive capitulations?
Obama started with health care, which was a huge and, to me anyway, obvious blunder. In the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, after the Clintons failed with their health care initiative, Obama goes with health care instead of jobs. The ultimate bill ended up being virtually identical to one proposed by Republicans some years earlier.
He should have started with jobs and cleaning up Wall Street and lobbying in general, but instead appointed half of Goldman Sachs as his financial advisors. It’s no surprise the US in in big fiscal shit now; he didn’t plunge the toilet first. He should have started with energy independence, which would have put people back to work and spent taxpayer dollars on green energy projects that reduced US dependence on foreign oil.
Definitely things are coming to a head. This latest US debt ceiling deal just punts the problem down the road a few months. I think we’re going to see a realignment of world power as companies and countries try to decouple themselves from the US, which is now more clearly than ever headed toward fiscal disaster. It probably won’t be immediate, and a lot of countries are much more heavily tied to the US than they would like to be, but you can see it coming when the ratings agencies are seriously threatening to downgrade the US credit rating. There must be enormous pressure on them NOT to do so, but they’re talking openly about it as if the US were Greece. And it has actually been happening, as companies relocate head offices and assets overseas, as are the rich.
The crises are coming so thick and fast that there is no time to deal with one before the next hits, from the Murdoch scandals to the US debt issue, from climate change to oil depletion, from middle eastern uprisings to continuing recession in the US. The problems are systemic, and I can’t see a change until people in the developed countries take serious action against the powers-that-be. The super-rich have forgotten, don’t realise, or most likely don’t care that the middle class is the foundation of a stable society. At some point, enough Americans will be reduced to poverty with no hope of returning to the middle class, and when people lose hope, leaders lose their heads.
There are two options open to clean up the ‘leader of the free world’: nonviolent protest on the scale of the Civil Rights movement, or…. The super-rich are doing everything they can to destroy any possibility of nonviolent systemic change; they have corrupted the political process through lobbying, they have corrupted the media via Fox News, they have corrupted the public discourse via libertarian/extremist right-wing ‘think tanks’ like the Heritage Foundation and and other lying trash, and they have worked very hard to ensure that alternate loci of power – like unions – are destroyed. No matter what you think of unions, point me to a country with a high standard of living that does not also have a high degree of unionisation – they are few. Especially in the absence of a strong and honest government, unions are a necessary counterbalance to global corporations.
No conspiracy theory is required, although quite obviously scum like the Koch brothers and Murdoch are doing their best to control things. All it requires is many people voting or otherwise putting their short-term self-interest before that of everyone else and you get where the US is now.
I see no possibility of change until a serious crisis comes, and unfortunately that means much worse than the current recession. And when crisis hits and the old ways of organization are questioned and assaulted, the leaders who rise up will determine whether we end up with a better democracy, a more stable society, and a sustainable way of living – or whether things get exponentially worse.
We are nearing a tipping point, I believe, but it is impossible to predict what will be the trigger. It may seem to be something minor, but that’s only because we studiously ignored all the straw previously piled on the camel’s back.