Obama: Reality vs. Ideology

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Reality, at any given moment in time, is the culmination of infinite variables coming together across time and distance. A pragmatist attempts to identify a finite variable set available for changing, in order to produce a desired outcome. Ideology is a view of how the world SHOULD work based on a finite set of preferred variables toward a desired end. Ideologues are having a very bad day today, as Pres. Obama, the pragmatist, defies yet again his critic's ideological projections and desire for his, and our nation's, failure.

Ideologues said Obama, the black man, could not win the presidency. Then when the polls showed he could, they said Obama, the liberal, could not win. Obama won. As president, the ideologues said his lack of experience would result in a failed presidency. After a couple months in office, the ideologues say Obama's actions are destroying our nation's future, even as increasing numbers of economic indicators begin to reverse their negative trend. Pres. Obama began on day one, making the changes that needed to be made to address the objectives the nation's people needed addressing.

The ideologues argued Obama selected the wrong people to rely on in Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers as economic advisers and leaders. Yet, within a little over 2 months, the stock markets have rallied 40% off their lows on the combination of Geithner's and Summer's plans to deal with financial institution toxic assets, economic stimulus, investments in jobs and the economy to follow the end of the depression/recession. The stock markets rallied in part today on the news from the G20 meeting in Europe that 1.1 trillion will be offered up to the IMF and 5 trillion dollars globally has been pumped, or will finally be pumped into the global economy. If the global economy improves, America will benefit, stock investors appeared to say with their buying. Wall Street investors are responding as if they can see light at the end of this long dark tunnel that was entered in the Fall of 2007 .

Heads of state at the G20 meeting, by all appearances and accounts, were very pleased to receive Obama's brand of leadership. The more so, when Pres. Obama mediated a feud between the French President and China's, which resulted in an agreement that ended the feud and a stumbling block to moving forward cooperatively. Critics who argued Obama doesn't have the experience to function on the world stage, were quiet today, as news broke around the world that with America's president, international cooperation and mutual respect can be restored once again. Pres. Obama was even able to mend a previously perceived slight with Great Britain's Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who simply beamed at the occasion of hosting Pres. Obama and the opportunity to share the stage with him on international TV. An era of artful diplomacy has replaced unilateral cowboy diplomacy, and the world's leaders appear to be breathing a welcome sigh of relief.

Housing sales halted their rate of decline a couple months ago and are now growing despite estimates in the other direction. Mortgage interest rates hit record lows even as creditworthiness standards have sharply risen, despite ideologues belief that lower interest rates would result in more widespread unsound lending practices. Factory orders rise, ending a 6 month decline. Consumer Confidence index rose last month in addition to February's all time low having been revised upward. Michigan's consumer index rise appears to be based on D.C. political news and information, supporting the polls showing more than 6 out of 10 Americans believe Pres. Obama is the right person to effectively deal with the ailing economy.

The end of every recession is preceded by mixed economic results. Mixed economic results are precisely what are filling the business news pages on the internet. Mixed economic indicators do not cause a recession to end, but, they are a necessary precondition. Unemployment numbers show no signs yet of improvement. Housing prices are still plummeting in some areas like Manhattan, New York, where pricing shot for the Moon. In other regions, county governments raised property taxes on some homeowners by more than 80% claiming that property values are still rising fast in some areas of Texas.

Many small businesses are still struggling for loans to stay afloat. And the consumers long term outlook may be improving, but their short term outlook is still very pessimistic, and for obvious reasons. This mix of positive and negative leading indicators with negative lagging economic indicators like unemployment numbers, precedes every recovery from recession. And this mixed indicator period fuels the ideologues on all sides to weigh in on the speculation and betting over the future, short and long term by way of the investment markets.

And this is understandable. The markets are often spoken of as something other than human. But, the investment markets are merely a stage upon which human actors of a pessimistic bent, and those of a positive outlook, engage in a kind of wager war as to who is going to be right and profit from the betting. These actors are referred to as Bears and Bulls, the pessimists and optimists, respectively, about the direction of investment prices. There is however a clear trend taking place at this moment in time, exemplified by the Bulls taking center stage and pushing stock prices upward. Stock markets do not follow a straight line up or down however, for any length of time. They chart a jagged course toward a longer trend. The debate now rages as to whether this is a bear market rally, or a floor being put under a longer term bull market that will continue an upward trend for years to come.

The pessimists, hedging their bets say, even if this is the start of a bull market, so much money is being pumped into the economy that we may see another recession in 2010 resulting from inflation. And they just might be right. The optimists ask why anyone would even think America was going to escape a depression and end this recession without large cost? The optimists argue the deficit spending, growth in the national debt, and risk of inflation are the mandatory price of preventing a depression or, protracted and far deeper recession, potentially threatening even the federal government's ability to maintain its obligations and debt interest payments.

A vast number of economists argue, where would America's economy be today if CitiGroup, Bank of America, and the host of other federal bailout recipients been allowed to go under and be broken up and sold off to domestic and foreign interests at 20, 30, or 40 cents on the dollar, even if buyers and financing could be found? America's economy would have ground to a near standstill, they argue, laying off twice, or three times, more workers. Shareholders, pensioners, and retirement investors would have lost vastly greater sums than they have to date. None of the positive economic signs cited above would now be evident, had the government not provided trillions of dollars of support in shoring up America's financial system and auto makers. This action in turn permitted great numbers of large and small businesses alike to continue operations and employ the rest of working America, who in turn continue to buy health care, food, pay for transportation, energy, and make rent, mortgage, and credit card payments.

And where would the federal revenues come from to hold the American government and its essential functions together and operational while paying the interest on our national debt and meeting its contractual obligations of treaties and contracts with foreign and American businesses and lenders, if our economy were to have been allowed to fail, likely taking down portions of the global economy along with it?

It is all too easy for the ideologues and pessimists to dismiss the reality that most Americans still have jobs, most small businesses are still functioning and employing workers, most consumers still have savings and disposable income even if they are reluctant to part with it, and most of America's corporations are still operating and not defaulting on their debts, even if many of their profits have seen red over the last year. This is all true because America's government maintained the financial system's operations and provided money flow throughout our economy when the banks could not, or would not. These actions kept our economy alive and functioning.

This is where ideology often fails. It ignores reality for what it thinks reality should be. One such ideologue is Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tx) who says to his constituents in a letter published this week:

I will vote against the massive $3.6 trillion budget proposed by President Barrack Obama and Democrats in Congress, and Texans deserve to understand why. I believe this budget taxes too much, spends too much and borrows too much. This budget will delay economic recovery in Texas and across the nation, and it will reduce opportunities for all of us.

For Sen. Cornyn, the recession is over and the need to invest in jobs, health care, and energy infrastructure, creating jobs at future tax payer expense, is unnecessary and unwarranted. For Sen. Cornyn our financial system is all healed and clawing at each other to make loans to any who wish to apply. That is what his ideology tells him. His ideology tells him that Texans are doing OK these days, with 3 job markets actually adding jobs, so, there is no need for federal dollars to be spent in the 49 other states or on the nation as a whole. His ideology tells him that his obligation as a U.S. Senator is to his Texas constituents, and since, they aren't hurting in 3 of Texas' job markets, the rest of the nation can go to hell in a hand basket as far as his vote is concerned. Voters in the other 49 states can't vote for him, so to hell with them.

Sen. Cornyn would likely have made an outstanding Texas Senator. But as a U.S. Senator, his ideology has failed his understanding that if the American economy tanks, so, will Texas'. He has lost sight of the 'U.S.' in front of his Senator title. Having gotten the earmarks and federal dollars he needs to get reelected in Texas for years and years, he can now easily afford to condemn national spending efforts to save the economies of other states and American's jobs, especially since such spending is be sanctioned by a president not of his party.

The Republican ideology says, in effect, that at this time of recession and financial sector distress, smaller government, which cuts some spending, but not so much as to get more Republicans unelected, and continuing tax cuts for the wealthiest and corporations, and giving the businesses the freedom to collapse and lose their shareholder's investments, including pension plans, and retiree's 401K investments or, succeed with Republican subsidies, earmarks, and lobbyist requests in exchange for campaign contributions and party fund raising, is the road to a more successful and prosperous future for American workers, investors, and tax payers. It is an ideology that thankfully, polls show, more than 7 out of 10 Americans have rejected. It is an ideology that played a major role in creating the crises Pres. Obama now wrestles with.

President Obama came into office with nearly every economic indicator alarm ringing. A little more than 2 months later, we are witnessing a panoply of mixed positive and negative economic indicators. Those who bet their fortunes on whether the future of business profits is improving or not, are betting it will improve. The heads of state of China, India, Russia, and the European nations of the G20, have embraced Pres. Obama as a most welcome player on the international diplomatic and strategic stage. This is the reality of the moment. And it stands in direct contradiction to Pres. Obama's opposing ideologues, pessimists, and partisan critics. They want Pres. Obama to fail. They need Pres. Obama to fail, to preserve their out of touch ideology, to prove their pessimism, and to avoid appearances of colluding with the political success of this President to their minority population of supporters whose primary common glue is opposition to taxes.

According to an NPR poll, most Americans favor the Obama budget, and believe it and America is on the right track, now that Obama is the President. What is an Obama critic or conservative ideologue, or economic pessimist to do. What they have always done, I suppose, since progress and solutions under Pres. Obama simply cannot be entertained.

President Obama ran as a pragmatist, intent on dealing with the real world on its own terms, paying the price reality demands for providing a way through the crises and threats that came with the office he was elected to. His approaches to solving our nation's challenges have brought criticism from liberal ideologues, conservative ideologues, and third party ideologues.

The stubborn reality remains, America has one president at a time, and that president is posited with the responsibility and a great deal of power to manage the interests of the population at large that elected him or her. And the population at large approves of Obama's performance, so far, with the confidence that he is the right person to occupy the White House at this time of national need and emergency. No amount of ideological spin has, to date, undone this reality. And that speaks well of America's democratic republic, her democratic election process, and of the majority of voters, some from each of the major political parties, who elected Barack H. Obama to lead.

A president cannot be effective leading a nation, or overcoming the nation's challenges, if that president does not have the confidence and support of the electorate. The ideologues desire for an altered reality thus rests on convincing the electorate they made a bad choice in the ballot box in Nov. of 2008. Good luck with that, ideologues, pessimists, and partisan critics. Bringing down America's future prospects to suit your ideology is not something Obama's voters will easily succumb to. Especially from the despicable likes of Rush with his anal references.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on April 2, 2009 7:09 PM.

Political Reforms Coming. WIll they measure up? was the previous entry in this blog.

Debt & Deficits: Necessary vs. Unnecessary is the next entry in this blog.

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