USC/Annenberg School has put a new version of my America 3.0:Rebooting After the Crash up on their You Tube Site. Watch it in the High Quality Setting. It will be up on I Tunes U next week as a free download.
President-elect Obama needs to be more ambitious.
Now that I’ve got your attention, here’s what I’m thinking about. The Chinese government has just announced it’s going to spend about 7% of its GDP on infrastructure investment in the next two years. Obama has mentioned numbers like $100 billion on infrastructure investment. If we spent 7% of our GDP in two years, it would come to $910 billion! As Paul Krugman reminds us this morning, FDR’s original New Deal fiscal stimulus was too timid and it wasn’t until the massive stimulus of war production that the economy really recovered.
Now I’m not saying all of this investment would come from the taxpayers, but rather that it’s going to take close to a trillion dollars to rebuild our broken infrastructure which has been starved for investment since the start of the Reagan administration. Continue reading
The New York Times asked 7 economists to advise the Obama administration under the title of “What Now.” With one exception they all seemed to be addressing what they thought was a given assumption:How can we get back to where we were before the crash? This seems to me to be singularly unhelpful. If the only task of the Obama Recovery is to restore America to a state in which 70% of GDP is consumer expenditures driven by excess credit and advertising, then we will have neither accomplished not learned anything from this crisis. As Jeremy Grantham has written.
An amateur economist could summarize and simplify the Chinese economy as 39-37-37: an astonishingly large 39% of the GDP is capital spending, 37% is internal consumption, and an amount equal to 37% of GDP is exported. (These numbers do not sum to 100 as we are not using exports net of imports because we are concerned with the vulnerability of total exports to a weak global economy.) The U.S., in comparison, is 19-70-13, disturbingly on the other side of normal; 70% consumption compared with 57% in both Germany and Japan, for example, and nearly twice that in China. Continue reading
It is hard to imagine now that four years ago George Bush was reelected in the midst of a climate of fear and suspicion. Democrats were on the defensive, the long term relevancy of their party being questioned by the media. Today’s election may render the Republicans a minority party, completely out of tune with the mood of the country. What happened?
The easy answer would be to say “Iraq and Lehman Bros.”. Those two tragedies expose the fallacy of the neoconservative philosophy of preemptive war and radical deregulation. But I would argue for two different phrases–”Bottom-up and Broadband”. In 2004 Democrats were overpowered by two forces: the Republican Top Down money/organizing machine and the power of right wing talk radio. There were many states that will vote Democratic today (Montana, Virginia, North Carolina, Indiana) that in 2004 had neither organization or media that reflected a Democratic message.
When after the 2004 defeat Howard Dean came to LA to campaign for the DNC Chairman spot, he said he would build a Democratic organization in all 50 states. And he did. But what Barack Obama realized from the start was that he was building a movement, not just a political campaign and he seized upon the bottom-up power of the Internet that Dean had pioneered and took it to a new level. And while the Clintons didn’t run a 50 state campaign, Obama did and it really paid off in the final month of the general campaign with the extraordinary organization And that’s where Broadband came in to the picture. Think about the effect of the will.i.am “Yes We Can” video, viewed more than 18 million times on the net. Continue reading
The New York Times has two days a week when a conservative and liberal op-ed columnist are paired off. Today was one of the rare occurences when they agreed about something–The need for a Green New Deal– a major WPA like government investment in infrastructure and alternative energy.
No, what the economy needs now is something to take the place of retrenching consumers. That means a major fiscal stimulus. And this time the stimulus should take the form of actual government spending rather than rebate checks that consumers probably wouldn’t spend.
Let’s hope, then, that Congress gets to work on a package to rescue the economy as soon as the election is behind us. And let’s also hope that the lame-duck Bush administration doesn’t get in the way.
A major infrastructure initiative would create jobs for the less-educated workers who have been hit hardest by the transition to an information economy. It would allow the U.S. to return to the fundamentals…Moreover, an infrastructure resurgence is desperately needed. Americans now spend 3.5 billion hours a year stuck in traffic, a figure expected to double by 2020.
The smart thing to do is announce a short-term infrastructure initiative to accelerate all those repair projects that can be done within a few years. Then, begin a long-term National Mobility Project.
The lame duck congress meeting in November has only one job. Get the Green New Deal started.
The election has been very good for the ratings of the Cable News Networks. The difference between the ratings this year and last year is astonishing. Unfortunately for CNN, Fox and MSNBC, this gravy train will probably end on November 5th. Especially people earning over $100,000 a year ( the huge increase) will have to go back to figuring out how to stay in that bracket rather than spending their time fixated on Keith Olberman, Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow.
For a few years I have worked with the OECD(Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development) in media and telecom issues. The organization has always done the best statistical analysis of the economies of the 30 Developed Countries that are members.
So last week they released their statistics on income inequality in the developed world. With the exception of Mexico and Turkey, the U.S. has the highest inequality level and poverty rate in the OECD. Here are some other depressing facts. Continue reading
The U.S. Government has long maintained a policy that they have the right to stop and search anyone at the border. The Department of Homeland Security is now taking the position that “the border” is the 100-mile wide strip that wraps around the “external boundary” of the United States. The ACLU took all the recent census maps and came to a rather surprising conclusion.
What we found is that fully TWO-THIRDS of the United States’ population lives within this Constitution-free or Constitution-lite Zone. That’s 197.4 million people who live within 100 miles of the US land and coastal borders.
That means the Fourth Amendment of the constitution, barring random and arbitrary stops and searches, does not apply to two-thirds of U.S. Citizens.
Shouldn’t Senator Leahy and the Judiciary Committee be looking into this?
The Mormon Church has poured almost $18 Million into the campaign in California to ban gay marriage. Recently they have been running the classic scare ads saying that without Prop 8, all the homosexual teachers in California schools would be teaching kids the “gay lifestyle”. The anti-Prop 8 forces are underfunded but fighting back on the net.
When historians want to mark the moment the hyper-libertarian economic philosophy died in America, they might take this morning’s appearance by Ayn Rand’s disciple, Alan Greenspan before the House Oversight Committee.
Mr. Greenspan said he had made a “mistake” in believing that banks in operating in their self-interest would be sufficient to protect their shareholders and the equity in their institutions. Mr. Greenspan said that he had found “a flaw in the model that I perceived is the critical functioning structure that defines how the world works.”
Mr. Greenspan, who headed the nation’s central bank for 18.5 years, said that he and others who believed lending institutions would do a good job of protecting their shareholders are in a “state of shocked disbelief.”
It is perhaps a marker of how far we have traveled in five weeks that when I proclaimed the end of the Uber-Libertarian on September 12, there was still a lot of push back from the community. For the leader of the libertarian philosophy to now proclaim he was wrong, seems to be the nail in that coffin. As Jacob Weisberg points out, libertarians have an excuse for every failing of the last few years, but they all ring false. Continue reading