Class Warfare Blog

November 14, 2011

Wanted: A Change of Heart and Mind

Filed under: Economics,Politics — Steve Ruis @ 1:21 pm
Tags: , , ,

Many pundits believe that our national level politics haven’t been at loggerheads this much in the last 125 years. We have political parties who ignore public priorities and public sensibilities and get hammered in polls and elections, yet persist in their delusions that the “The American Public wants (what we want) .”

What is needed is a change of heart and mind by one and all.

An example of a change of heart I can offer involves looking back to the end of World War II. There was a pervading sense of “we are all in this together” that allowed a great deal of progress to be made in our economic and social lives. We used that, along with a battered world economy, to build the biggest middle class the world had ever seen. I don’t think such a change needs a world war to launch, but there must be, I believe, significant shared effort and shared sacrifice. Such efforts build team spirit.

A change of mind is also sorely needed. I would like to see rational decision making adopted as a major theme of political discourse. If someone or some party claims that, for example, “tax cuts are the only way to climb out of a recession,” they should be ready to present evidence for that claim, not just argument, but evidence. All of those interested could submit evidence and then people could weigh that evidence to see if it holds water. People who aren’t capable of weighing the evidence can be helped by independent bodies which can.

Currently our national politicians want the exact opposite. (Evidence, I don’ got to show you no stinkin’ evidence!) As an example, you may have noticed that every economic indicator we hear about gets “revised” three to four months after it is announced. The stimulus package proffered by the Obama administration was considered a “low” estimate of what was needed for the as then construed problem. Somewhat later we find out the recession was about twice as bad as was first estimated, so the “stimulus” was helpful but rather ineffective because it was way too small. Had we known the real extent of the problem, the debate might have been different.

Not long ago a bill was introduced to reform our system of economic indicators using Canada’s more accurate system as a model. The cost of implementation was minimal. The bill, of course, went nowhere and we still have the old, very flawed system. Politicians like it that way. If an indicator supports something you support, you crow about it. If it doesn’t, you wait a few months and the revised value comes out and you have the opportunity to crow about the revised value. There is no commitment to reality.

Time magazine pointed out that the summer riots in London should have been expected because of the wealth disparity in England, indicated by a Gini Coefficient of 0.38. The U.S. Gini Coefficient is far worse being near, or maybe now on the high side of, 0.50. Will it take an economic meltdown involving the dollar losing its status as the international currency? Will it take riots?

What will it take to change your heart or your mind?


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