The Mighty Deception – Focus on Politics and Economy

January 9, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

January 19, 2010 marks the first anniversary for the Presidency of Barack Obama. The columnist from the leading national news organization chided the right and the left political factions in the article, the excerpts listed below.

“In a world of ideological sniping, Obama can’t win.”

By Richard Cohen, Washington Post, January 5, 2010

“Last month, no American soldiers were killed in Iraq. Last month, the unemployment rate dipped a bit, the stock market ended the year up, the financial system did not crater, Detroit’s Big Three began to get a pulse – and yet a consensus started to form that Barack Obama, who is either responsible for or merely presided over all this good stuff, is a failure.

On the left, the president is being pummeled for health care legislation that does not include a public option and has not dispatched insurance executives to Guantanamo. On the right, he is being pummeled for socializing the economy, establishing death panels and allowing maniacal Nigerians to load their Calvins with boom-boom and fly into peaceful Detroit. It’s a cartoon.

Any way you measure the polls, Obama did not have a good year.

In foreign policy, Obama has sorely disappointed his fans on the left for escalating the war in Afghanistan and on the right for not escalating it enough…

He has not brought peace to the Middle East.

Obama could be a great president. He has already achieved much – possibly saving the country from financial ruin, salvaging the auto industry, getting some sort of health care reform. Possibly, possibly.

Yet, his numbers sink as his achievements rise. He is the Johnny Appleseed of cognitive dissonance, so utterly detached that when he wins it seems to be only for himself. Pollsters measure him but poets have described him.

William Butler Yeats got it down years ago: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

Perspective: By Padmini Arhant

The author’s hyperbolic characterization of the left position particularly with the dispatching of the insurance executives to Guantanamo and the article concluding with the quotation ‘the worst are full of passionate intensity,’ suggests the print media eternal love fest with any incumbent administration.

As such, democracy is under siege with the legislations merely passed and mostly stalled at the Corporations’ will, aided by their representatives’ inaction in the Senate and the House. It’s further exacerbated with the established print and mainstream media presenting the figures but not the facts thereby joining the elitists against the populists.

Therefore, it’s essential to place things in perspective for a fair analysis.

Iraq war without casualties in the past month is great news. However, the reason behind that is adopting the “left position” to scale down the troop level and make a firm commitment for troop withdrawal, a diametrically opposite decision by the administration on Afghanistan. Despite the reality, the pledge towards peace and non-violence is characterized as “ideological sniping” rather than pragmatic stance.

The dip in the unemployment rate and the rise in stock market are welcome. Nevertheless, the national unemployment and the states’ joblessness is still in double digit with the middle class dropping to the poorer category and the poor driven to being food stamps dependents.

Stock market performance is directly related to the real and projected industry earnings. Since, the health care reform unarguably in favor of the health care industry in the absence of robust competition such as the government insurance program, the health industry stocks skyrocketed at the confirmation of the public option eliminated from the debate.

In other areas, the defense stocks always thrive rain or shine with the U.S perpetual engagement in warfare. The exception to the genuine growth is the technology sector boosting the figures and again with the drastic employment cuts to survive global competition.

It’s indeed a relief that the financial sector did not crater with the infusion of trillion dollars that has surely benefited the Wall Street more than the main street still being defrauded with no aggressive financial regulations in sight including the oversight demanding accountability on the massive taxpayer bailouts.

Detroit’s big three began to get a pulse – yet the State of Michigan ranks the highest in unemployment rate with an average 15.8 percent described as the worst annual rate in “at least 40 years,” and disproportionately greater among the African American as well as other minority groups.

It’s true that the Obama presidency salvaged the financial and auto industry from ruin and currently involved in the health care reform. Although, the salvation of these sectors were carried out to protect jobs, stimulate the economy by unleashing the liquidity in the financial market while reining in on the foreclosures through affordable lending programs, the progress has been either too slow or in many instances absolutely non-existent due to the bailout beneficiaries’ usual business tactics.

Meanwhile, the financial institution such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives are back in action with the same modus operandi i.e. extravagant bonuses for extraordinary failures in the sub-prime mortgage debacle that initiated the free fall of the economy into the ditch.

In the health care reform as cited above, the proof of the pudding relies on the economic impact of the remaining uninsured millions other than the 30 millions predicted to be covered under the exclusively private proposal. Other issues, like raising taxes on health care plan opted by the work force in lieu of employment benefits are a matter that will weigh in on the cost factor determined by the supply and demand free market elements.

“Some things never changes,” regardless of the power in the White House or the Congress is evident in the past year evaluation.

The Wall Street traditions continue with the financial, health care, communications and energy industries dictating terms and conditions in defiance of the free market fundamentals.

Among them are:

Demanding bailouts and refusing to be subject to scrutiny,

Legislations drafted to promote obscene profits at the expense of exhausted taxpayers and exploited consumers eventually driving the economy to the cliff and,

Last but not the least the communications industry, Comcast resisting government intervention in the monopoly of the diverse media, such as the takeover of NBC and sister networks along with the national communications service and AT&T barring competition in the deal with Apple computers in the Smart Phone – iPhone subscription services and more.

With respect to green jobs creation, the notion is ideal and it would invigorate the battered economy, provided the energy giants do not railroad the budding entrepreneurs vital to expand the sector for community access and local job opportunities.

It’s clear that the ideological sniping from the left or the right is ineffective with the administrations in power succumbing to Wall Street pressure on all issues.

There is one thing to expect loyalty from the supporters through lavish praise and flattery that would simply qualify as cronyism in the backdrop of ‘business as usual’ environment. Another aspect where the actual situation in people’s life has not changed in terms of retaining jobs, homes and the health care proposal entirely entrusted under private care responsible for the status quo.

My silence is not necessarily my disappearance into the oblivion. Any suggestions and requests made thus far in both domestic and foreign policies have been slighted even though they are decisively in favor of the struggling populace at home and abroad. Perhaps, that might be the cause for the utter disregard of opinions and ideas offered upon several political figures’ insistence to participate in the legislative process.

For instance, my request towards transparency and accountability promised during the election campaign by the Obama candidacy has deviated to closed chamber discussion with lobbyists and party members notably in the health care legislation, financial regulations and climate bill negotiations.

I’ve been urging that the oversight committee (if it exists!) hold the financial sector accountable for the bailouts and demand they comply with their end of the bargain in facilitating the credit flow and lending practices crucial to energize the stagnant economy, is largely ignored.

Likewise, the stimulus packages passed under both Bush and Obama administrations viz. TARP money $700 billion in 2008 and $787 billion in 2009 respectively has substantial amounts in cash that has not been invested vigorously to protect or create jobs in the manufacturing sector and public projects i.e. infrastructure maintenance, green technology etc.

I’m still awaiting on the logical reasoning behind withholding the vast stimulus funds for purpose other than the economic recovery via housing market revival, job growth and tax credits to small businesses and medium corporations who are forced to minimize overheads through job cuts.

In addition, the Congress passed relief funds for meager $75 billion to deal with the housing market particularly to decelerate foreclosures, is reportedly served with an acute amount of approximately $2.3million and not billion. Further, it’s reported that the treasury secretary Timothy Geithner’s explanation was “the funds held in reserve to rescue financial institutions from the housing market downturns.”

I emphasized on the required urgent action during the Bush administration bailout activities in resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act and the long overdue aggressive financial regulations to prevent the precipitous decline of the financial assets hurting the average citizens. Not surprisingly, it received no attention.

Now, it appears that the recently passed House bill on the financial reform has incorporated some of the rigorous policies instead of the comprehensive GS Act possibly anticipating the standard revolt from the Senate.

Not all is lost but there are serious grievances among the general public that are justified with the families facing economic difficulties and it’s appropriately revealed during the November 2009, gubernatorial and congressional elections.

Considering the facts, should one remain complicit to the prevalent camaraderie between Wall Street and Washington in spite of the culture corroding the systems and bankrupting small businesses and ordinary individuals in the society?

My specific role is to represent the people i.e. the humanity at the domestic and international fronts. The task is to work for the general mass and common good to restore democracy, peace and harmony, social justice and freedom, the basic right of all living beings.

Unfortunately, the guidance on foreign policy has been deliberately dismissed by selective entities with a cavalier approach to humanitarian crisis affecting millions of innocent lives. There will be in-depth discussion in this context to dispel the myths and misconceptions surrounding the international crises.

Washington functions on the dogma that “Those who try to please all, pleases none.” The irony in the legislators’ action is the public interest invariably marginalized over the personal and special interests in the appeasement trend.

Hope and Change is yet to be experienced and possible with a paradigm shift that recognizes alleviating people’s plight as the primary goal in public service.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


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