Sunday, August 01, 2010

Policy's Consequences

I first wrote a few years ago about small but noticeable changes in New York City's quality of life, and I speculated that they might mark the reversal of a decades-long trend. For anyone who takes the trains, reads the almost-daily newspaper reports about the latest service cutbacks, or simply walks the streets, this reversal has become obvious. I've lived in or near Manhattan for most of the past 20 years. And while observations like this are of course fuzzy and subjective, I don't ever remember the sort of stark street scenes I've seen recently.

If you live in or close to the city, try a walking tour one night soon. Start around midnight at Broadway and 72nd and head north. Cross over at 96th to Amsterdam, then circle back down to 72nd. Maybe they will still be there: the woman on the church steps with a child on one side and what looked like the rest of her life in a shopping cart on the other. Or the man sleeping under a pay phone with a box of clothes and a puppy. Or the others who -- maybe thankfully, after seeing the child and the puppy -- are alone. In some cases they are steps from wine bars and faux-French cafes still reasonably busy from bailout bonuses and zero interest rate bounty. There is talk of tent sightings in the heavily wooded, lightly patrolled areas of Central Park. And this is a city long known for its strong social safety net; I can only imagine what's happening in other cities and towns around the country.

It's an ongoing disgrace that anyone linked to or responsible for the policies and decisions that led to this human misery and national reversal of fortune is allowed anywhere near a job in DC, much less rewarded with reappointment. This blog has been sympathetic to Obama in the past, mainly with regard to the alternative in November 2008. And it's clear he inherited an economic collapse in progress. But for obstinately retaining Bernanke, Summers and Geithner, a trio the public associates with the failed or unpopular policies of the past -- and in Bernanke's case, the one policymaker aside from Alan Greenspan most responsible for the devastation -- Obama deserves both the increasing blame he's getting for the economy and the widespread skepticism that financial reform will change anything.

William F. Buckley, who became increasingly concerned in his later years about capitalism's unabashed excesses and the threat to the system from within, probably would have used a perfect word to describe this bizarre and infuriating granting of tenure for catastrophic failure -- something like "blasphemous." After doing the Upper West Side loop I can think of some earthlier synonyms.


Anonymous am4 said...

And this weekend Bob Rubin's enabler-in-chief spent $2-5 million marrying off his daughter, a former hedge fund nepotic employee, to the Goldman-employed son of a convicted felon/former Congressman.

The French knew how to deal with this class of people.

8/01/2010 9:32 PM  
Anonymous KAIMU said...


Please do not leave out the re-appointment of the scourge of the Bush administration Gen Patreus(Betray-us)that the left practically called a Nazi when the Bush regime was in full swing. What was that called back in the Bush days? Oh yeah, "THE SURGE"! I recall Obama said it would not work and if he was elected President he would begin pulling troops out of the Middle East within the first 100 days. Back to the drawing board. So many here were up in arms when Obama was called a liar on the floor of the Senate during a speech. If you do not keep your campaign promises what are you?

I for one voted for RON PAUL even though he was not even on the ticket. Who ended up being the one and only voice of real CHANGE in terms of transparency at the US FED? It wasn't Obama and it wasn't McCain. God only knows what these two parties will put up for Prez on the next election. The corpses are already stinking to high heaven in DC and it isn't even October!

When it comes to the two party political monopoly in America all you can choose from at the voting booth is which "banker" you want to represent you.

8/02/2010 1:33 AM  
Anonymous Kilfarsnar said...

I agree with Paul Krugman's column in the Times today. It is clear that the wealthy elite don't care about the rest of the country. Since these same elite run the government, the government doesn't care either. They consistently put the interests of capitalism above everything else. The titans of business won't be happy until the people of this country are reduced to peasants whom they can rule over.

Do I sound pissed off about it? Damned right. And I still have a well paying job!

8/02/2010 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Inthon said...

Um, corporate welfare is not capitalism.

8/02/2010 1:30 PM  
Anonymous Goldhorder said...

Am4, I got to bed every night and dream about pitchforks, torches, and nooses. If the people ever overcome their brainwashing I'll be there to show them the way to DC

8/02/2010 6:58 PM  
Anonymous mary s said...

I hope I'm wrong, but it looks like any pitchforks that do come out will be deployed in the service of the brainwashers! As Matt Yglesias reminded me earlier today, poor or flat economic conditions tend to make people more selfish and xenophobic. And they are spurred on by so-called leaders -- how else can we interpret the lunacy over the mosque in downtown Manhattan?

8/04/2010 6:20 PM  
Anonymous Goldhorder said...

please Mary... Whatever you do... Back away from the Matt Yglesias. Lol

8/04/2010 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whats it take for you to realize that Government is the problem and not Capitalism? You're a broken record. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Federal Reserve, etc... are not captitalists, they are parasites. They produce nothing and create nothing. They can only do what they do because of the freaking government! Get a clue.

8/05/2010 10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Goldhorder, I share your suspicion of Yglesias, but I gotta agree with him on this one. Don't hold your breath waiting for people to wake up from their brainwashing. As long as people are capable of being titillated by Mel Gibson's ravings and as long as there is no one to organize the great unwashed and no competing philosophy around which to organize the looting will continue unabated.

8/06/2010 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Goldhorder said...

I agree there is no hope but i would not blame it on the masses. My counter would be that the great unwashed masses are very organized. Our public school system was copied from the Prussian model in the early 1900s. By the year 2000 it was perfected. This high school valedictorian nails it.

8/06/2010 8:11 PM  
Anonymous Inthon said...

Did anyone see this? Transparent giveaway of funds to buy votes...

just incredible.

Welfare passed off as "stimulus"

8/10/2010 12:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Matt Taibbi had a good article, "David Stockman and the GOP Welfare State", that referenced David Stockman's OP-ED piece in the NYT, "Four Deformations of the Apocalypse".

All I can say is, welcome to what the midwest has been experiencing for well over 30 years. Dedicate your life to working above and beyond because that was the right thing to do, and after decades of work they call you dead wood and cut your job, and send the business somewhere else. You and your spouse go looking for jobs, waiting in unemployment lines and that whole experience, only to get two jobs that don't pay what one did before, and forget benefits. You cut costs to the bone, forgo medications, and one day after working a double-double shift, you drop dead from a heart attack leaving your family to pick up the pieces. Today's "Family Values"? A recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose your job.

There are no solutions if we don't get control of corrupt corporate and political practices, and a media polluting the market place of ideas. I totally agree with Senator Franken on corporate takeover of our media, and the government's failure to stop it, is one of the most important issues of our time

Dr. Who episode played recently that was placed in Hooverville. It difficult to distinguish WS from the Daleks ;-)

8/20/2010 12:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See Michael O'Hare of Berkeley on related issues

8/23/2010 4:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

See Michael O'Hare of Berkeley on related issues

8/23/2010 4:09 PM  

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