POLITICAL observations & opinions

* Jeffrey Sachs: leaders from both parties have yet to accept the magnitude of the shifts in the world economy and the scope of the solutions needed … LMW: In stark contrast to broad-based ignorance of too many voters and elected officials are the articulate and knowledgeable comments being made by the leaders of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which continues to gather force and momentum. While there are surely risks that this movement could get out of hand, the potential benefits are great. Perhaps this is the face of America’s “Arab Spring.”

Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 4, 2011

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Occupy Wall Street in Boston

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Jeffrey Sachs writes in TIME (10/10/11) …

  • America was once the great middle-class society. Now we are divided between rich and poor, with the greatest degree of inequality among high-income democracies.
  • It should be no surprise that our politics are foul as a result of it all.
  • The rich finance candidates while the poor cannot.
  • in the 1970s. The U.S. dollar was toppled from its unique perch; oil and food prices spiked; Japanese automobile imports began to challenge the Big Three automakers; and inflation soared. America was experiencing its first taste of the new globalized competition.
  • Yet America misdiagnosed the problems.

Rather than focus on the overseas challenge to U.S. competitiveness,

Ronald Reagan declared in 1980 that government was

not the solution to our problems–it was the problem.

  • The key to re-establishing a sound economy, he claimed, was to slash taxes, reduce government programs like energy research and social insurance and generally adhere to a free-market course.
  • The Reagan diagnosis neglected the fact that the federal government had been a handmaiden of the country’s inclusive growth of the 1950s and ’60s. Worse, the Reagan Revolution failed to grapple with the even bigger upheaval of globalization.
  • This deterioration in Main Street earning prospects was covered up for more than 20 years by debt.
  • First, there was mortgage debt. Washington encouraged housing construction at every turn through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Wall Street deregulation and the Fed’s low-interest-rate policies. The housing sector seemed like an employment winner, creating construction jobs that at least partly offset the lost manufacturing jobs. A winner, that is, until the bubble collapsed in 2007.
  • Eager to keep voters feeling prosperous, Washington also fed the fever of consumer credit.
  • The surge of financial inequality and recklessness has been a bipartisan affair, aided and abetted by every administration and Congress since 1981.

leaders from both parties have yet to accept

the magnitude of the shifts in the world economy

and the scope of the solutions needed.

  • The truth is that it will take more spending–not in the form of haphazard stimulus but in smart long-term public investments in education, infrastructure and human capital–to get us out of our present mess.
  • We will keep our high living standards only if we embrace and manage the complexities of a technologically advanced and globalized economy.
  • It’s time to stop arguing about spending cuts for everyone and tax cuts for the rich.

Congress should be having a serious discussion

about how we’re going to fund our future competitiveness.

  • In this way, we can build the skills and productivity in our society to compete effectively in the 21st century.

LMW COMMENT …

There is no question that Congress and the Obama administration are unduly affected by the political contributions of the wealthy.

But that is not the only problem.

Consider the abysmal ignorance of the Republican presidential candidates and most Congressmen and Senators of both parties.  Our elected officials don’t have a clue what is going on in the world and what the U.S. needs to do to succeed in today’s competitive global economy. Apparently they don’t have the time or the intellect or the desire to master the issues on which their votes are so critical. All they seem to focus on is raising money to get re-elected.

And most voters know even less. People seem to glory in their ignorance and their disdain for what some call “elitist” learning. Too may loudmouths don’t know the facts and have no concern for the consequences of what they are proposing. If we continue down that “know-nothing” path, disaster awaits.

In stark contrast to broad-based ignorance of too many voters and elected officials are the articulate and knowledgeable comments being made by the leaders of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which continues to gather force and momentum. While there are surely risks that this movement could get out of hand, the potential benefits are great. Perhaps this is the face of America’s “Arab Spring.”

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2 Responses to “* Jeffrey Sachs: leaders from both parties have yet to accept the magnitude of the shifts in the world economy and the scope of the solutions needed … LMW: In stark contrast to broad-based ignorance of too many voters and elected officials are the articulate and knowledgeable comments being made by the leaders of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which continues to gather force and momentum. While there are surely risks that this movement could get out of hand, the potential benefits are great. Perhaps this is the face of America’s “Arab Spring.””

  1. Lew Weinstein said

    good observation … are my views accurate or biased? … I’ll think about it, and look for more evidence.

  2. Chris said

    Interesting view, tea party = no nothings, ows = articulate and knowledgeable.

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