Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Getting to the Causes Behind the Economic Crisis

Robert Scheer may be sounding like a broken record in the position he has taken over the best way to get out of our economic crisis, but his repeated message needs to be heard. If the only way it will sink in is through more repetition, then so be it. He reminds me of the opera fanatic all the way up in the top level at La Scala listening to some soprano (blessedly nameless in the history of opera anecdotes) massacre her performance of "Vissi d'arte." When she finished, the fanatic shouted "Encore;" and the would-be diva obliged. Again, a cry of "Encore" came from the balcony; and she sang it once more. After a few more iterations, the guy sitting next to the fanatic elbowed him and said, "What are you doing? She's terrible!" The fanatic replied, "I know. She's gonna sing it until she gets it right!" Scheer has apparently decided that he will keep singing his aria until the Obama Administration gets it right.

In his latest column, which appeared this morning on his Truthdig site with less annoying pop-up junk than one encounters in the version provided on-line by The Nation, the punch line of his message could not be clearer:

There is no way that Obama can begin to seriously reverse this course without shedding the economic team led by the Clinton-era “experts” like Summers and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who got us into this mess in the first place. They are spooked by one overwhelmingly crippling idea—don’t rattle the financial titans whom we must rely on for investment. But when it comes to keeping people in their homes, it is precisely the big banks that must be rattled into doing the right thing.

Obama gained credibility through sacking Gen. Stanley McChrystal for making untoward remarks. Why not sack Summers and Geithner for untoward policies that have inflicted such misery on the general public?

The only question will then involve selecting their replacements. Cabinet appointments still have to run the gauntlet of Senate approval; and the Senate is probably far more beholden to maintaining Wall Street status quo (even at the expense of letting Main Street devolve into deeper depression) than the White House is. The situation is not facilitated by the fact that the sharpest economic minds also tend to have the sharpest wits, meaning that their language may not be as colorful as McChrystal's but will probably be just as "untoward."

So there is nothing wrong with Scheer singing the same song over and over until our supposedly representative government finally shows signs of getting it right. It's a thankless task, but somebody's got to do it. The real question is whether or not Scheer's voice will run out of steam before Washington gets the message.

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