Hawking Up Hairballs

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Clinton Redux

To those of you who got all tingly at the election of Barack Obama, I hope you've been paying attention to his appointments. Start with foreign policy. He's retaining Gates as Secretary of Defense, and he's chosen the hawkish Queen Bitch for State. It's not promising, and it looks like more of the same for the people of the Middle East. The neo-con Prince of Darkness even seems to think so. Richard Perle told the New Republic, "Contrary to expectations, I don't think we would see a lot of change."

Then there are Obama's economic advisors, guys like Summers and Geithner. These are the same folks who got us into this mess. How can you expect them to get us out of it? There are those who will prattle on about how these guys are experienced, and how they will know how to proceed, and yadda-yadda-yadda. If you believe that, then I guess you can't wait for Santa Claus to arrive on Christmas. This point of view arises from the notion that economics is a science like physics and chemistry. There are certain principles, and its practitioners know how to apply them. I hate to tell you, but it don't work like that, folks. As Michael Perelman says in his fine book, Railroading Economics: The Creation of the Free Market Ideology, "...economics is an ideology designed to defend existing practices rather than a science." This was made clear by Marx in Das Kapital when he convincingly demonstrated that classical economics took the side of the employers against labor. This led to a recasting of the "science" of economics in the 1870's, when it became a theory of exchange rather than production. Here's Perelman again, "In this new form of economics, capitalists and workers alike no longer appeared as members of distinct classes, but as part of a homogeneous group of individuals. Whether the 'individual' is Wal-Mart selling toilet paper or a worker selling labor makes little difference." And there you are. That's pretty much where we are today, so we can't expect much from Obama, not with the advisors he has. The only way out of this mess is with a massive redistribution of wealth downward, and Wall Street isn't going to stand for that.

As Chomsky pointed out in the piece I linked to below, a recent study has shown that you can pretty much predict what a new president's policies are going to be by where his money comes from. By that criterion, we'll probably get just what seems to be shaping up, namely, Clinton redux.


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