It is easy to focus on what is not working. The mistakes, the miscalculations and the unacceptable compromises of his first year in office. We should be blatantly critical of policies that did not work, promises that were not kept and mistakes that continue to get swept under the rug. But rather than bickering, we should work to find solutions at some level, if we are going to criticize at every level. Even among disastrous carnage, miracles can be found. Haiti is giving us examples of this, every day. Health care "reform" is not happening in one swelled swoop, but when the bill passes, parts of the health care system will be reformed, some of it is being improved and hopefully a policy or two will emerge from this effort that reveals itself to be profound in the years and decades to come.
The financial crisis, fraud, enabled greed and regulatory irresponsibility is the biggest socio/economic problem we have faced in this country. We made some adjustments to stop the bleeding but government clearly did not complete the surgery to repair the damage. We didn’t even change the dressing on the wound so we could aid in our own recovery, not even in a small way. That is inexcusable. It’s the most perplexing thing I have witnessed as an American adult. I never expected the villains to be punished, I hardly expected them to be revealed but I did expect them to get a pat on the derrier and told “You got away with this once. Continue to enjoy your wealth, keep the riches you stole from the American people but don't expect to step back in the ring and begin stealing again in the same flagrant and pillaging way”. The lack of new significant regulation on 1/24/2010, is unconscionable to me. More than one year after the bail out of AIG and others, 1000’s of foreclosures, millions of jobs lost. I am dumbfounded. It has left me with a chronic distrust in the American system of commerce leading to individual or community prosperity. I distrust government. I distrust capitalism. I am convinced that if you have achieved financial wealth you have stolen it. There is no win-win. I hate and will resist that definition of my character, until the day I die. I likely, will die poor.
Americans want to prosper; some of us are even willing to work for it. We want to be positive, but we tend to hover on the negativity, the scandal, the failure. I guess it is a human survival trait to place blame, as the first natural recourse to anything that goes wrong. To divert the attention away from ourselves, allows us to face our mistakes less often. By placing blame we give ourselves a sense, usually false, that none of this is our fault. Many of us are far less at fault than others, for sure, but we do have a responsibility to live within our means and be self reliant. We also should want to treat our fellow Americans with respect. We should not want to ruin and defeat each other. I am not suggesting that Obama gather us around and take us through a self realization exercise, but I did expect, I do expect him to lead with a more forceful, singularly focused and transparent hand. I do expect him to call a spade a spade, and I expect our president to be someone with whom you don't mess !
I disagree with Krugman that he should continue to point people to the past as the place to lay blame, although politically that is the right move to make, it does little to propel forward momentum.
I expect Obama to pick a problem and make it less of a problem. He doesn’t need to fix Health Care 100%; he just needs to set a path toward managing it - better. His administration needs to properly set expectations among the American people, while the democratic process sets a new direction. A fresh foundation with a goal to stabilize and correct. I expect him to stand up in front of us and remind us how we got here, explain where we are, and then deliver a course of action accompanied by pros and cons, that has a reasonable chance to succeed. Unfortunately, people want a complete fix. An eradication of the dysfunction, but they want it without understanding what it would take to achieve it, and they want it only if the solution allows them to go on living in the same irresponsible way. That's two faced. Its shallow and it is amateurish. All of this leads to a sense of failure and frustration. When all we need is a little win, to give us the confidence to tackle the next problem.
The biggest miscalculation, I believe, of the Obama team to date, is their distraction, even for a millisecond, from job creation. This problem needs 24/7 focus and abounding creativity. Health care, house loans, business loans, wars in faraway lands, are insignificant and irrelevant to me if, I am starving and have no hope of eating. Everything stems from unemployment and the perpetuating sense of hopelessness. Rather than financial bail outs of institutions, couldn’t the government have paid for solar panels for every home in America, and employed the unemployed to install them. Instead of bailing out GM, couldn’t the government have paid for the reconfiguration of automobile factories to factories capable of producing different goods, and force the American corporations like Nike to move a % of their production facilities to America, subsidizing the wages and putting Americans back to work, making American products. In 1967, 68% of products consumed by Americans, were produced in America. Today that number is 5%. Export and import ratios should be proportionately balanced, based on financial principals, not political agendas. With some of the bail-out funds, couldn't the government have subsidized the overcrowded public schools to build more classrooms, employ more teachers, buy more books/musical instruments, computers - and teach kids? Instead of using financial contributions from the Insurance and Pharmaceutical industries to guarantee favorable legislation couldn’t the government put those contributions toward funding better health care policies, fair access, then train and employ Americans to provide it.
I guess not...I guess I'm crazy...I want to understand, I recognize that these issues are extremely complex. I am willing to do the work to understand, but frankly, at this point, I don't know who I would trust to teach me ... If that is not a case for self reliance, I don't know what is....