August 9, 2011

The Blame Game

Well, the stock market threw one hell of a tantrum yesterday. Seems as though the traders were unhappy after President Obama's speech because he didn't have a plan to fix everything RIGHT NOW! He should have called Congress back into session, even though this isn't in the Constitutional playbook.

You wonder if these people have been on another planet for the last couple of months. We are in the midst of major political gridlock. Both parties have extreme "my way or the highway" wings that will cheerfully sacrifice the day-to-day well-being of the average citizen if that's what it takes to maintain doctrinal purity. Yet the "market" believed that the president should have just waved his magic wand and made it all better, and because he didn't do that they said "fuck it" and went crazy on us.

So to the list of institutions that are building our failed state brick-by-brick, we can add Wall Street and Standard and Poor's. (I know that is overly harsh and an immense over-simplification, but I'm feel a bit cranky this morning, standing here in the rubble of another economic aftershock that is destroying my nest egg.)

Whose fault is it, anyway? Despite what they say, we all like to play the blame game. Who do you think is responsible for the mess we are in? My answer is pretty much everybody.

President Bush rushed into an unnecessary war in Iraq and the Republican-controlled Congress went on a 6-year spending spree while at the same time cutting taxes. This lead to a massive deficit that quickly wiped out the Clinton surplus and made us beholden to China.

The banking industry, emboldened by Republican disdain for government oversight of private business, went on a criminal spree the likes of which this country hasn't seen. People who should have known better and who never should have bought homes practically had them shoved down their throats. If the numbers didn't work, no problem. Phony paperwork was ginned up on the spot. Thus was born the mother of all housing bubbles.

President Obama took office in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and decided that the top priority was health care, not the economy. A huge miscalculation. An enormous amount of political capital and good will was expended on a program that offered no immediate benefit to the economy.

Out of that debate—if that's what you want to call it—came gridlock and the Tea Party, which decided in their infinite wisdom that debt and only debt mattered.Speaking of the Tea Party, they must be included in the blame game. Perhaps their role in this was little more than jesters and pawns, but the fact is their intransigence during the debt crisis was a huge factor in the gloominess over at Standard and Poor's that lead them to downgrade our credit rating.

And so we have a failed company passing judgment on a failed economy being brought to its knees by a failed political system. Who is to blame? Everyone.

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