Saturday, October 31, 2009

No Good News is Good News

The ability to criticize shouldn't be confused with the merit of those criticisms.  Just because you can find something to complain about doesn't mean that you should be complaining.  And I thought of this in dualing criticisms of Obama I saw at Carpetbagger's from folks on both sides of the spectrum. 

First I read a post about how the economy is improving, but because employment hasn't improved, the economy is apparently meaningless; at least according to Obama's liberal critics.  And so you read comments like these:
Neill: let's see...economy expands and unemployment expands. i'm not much of an economic thinker, but i'd say the thriving economy is eatin' people. that's good? i dont think so...

Bill H: When I see employment rising significantly and indebtedness decreasing and a major portion of the bad debt written off then I will believe that the economy is improving.

Paul: GDP is one of the worst measures we have of economic activity. Way too much of it is based on purely paper effects (so, for example, the rebound of the financial industry, with more people selling crap to each other once again, counts as positive for GDP even though it's likely a negative for the rest of us).
So since employment hasn't gone up, it's not enough to simply suggest that our economy hasn't improved enough.  Oh no, they insist it's all a fraud, so much so that we're to imagine that it'd be better if the GDP hadn't increased.  But I do agree with Neill about one thing: He's really not much of an economic thinker.

And oddly, Obama's critics from the right are at least a little more honest about this:
On MSNBC this morning, Joe Scarborough (conservative Republican) and Pat Buchanan (conservative Republican) were discussing the recent reports on economic growth. Scarborough conceded it may have been the result of "the federal money that's gotten in there." Buchanan was more dismissive, calling recent growth "steroids," adding, "[The president] pushed all of this money into the economy and pumped it up."
In other words, righties like Scarborough and Buchanan are taking the leftie argument, that Obama's stimulus boosted the economy; while lefties like Neill, Bill H, and Paul insist that it was evil Big Business that is to blame for this catastrophic economic boost.  And even the lefties who admit that this boost was due to Obama's stimulus bill, lament that the stimulus isn't permanent; as if it was meant to be.

And so all these people can see the exact things we saw: Obama pushed a stimulus plan which seems to have given a slight boost to an economy that needed it, yet insist that it's a bad thing which Obama should be blamed for.  Sure, it did exactly what it was supposed to do, against the theories conservatives pimped and in accordance with liberal theories; yet all the same, Obama is to blame.  And because these people can find a dim lining around this silver cloud, it's proof that they were right all along in criticizing Obama. 

For conservatives, Obama's big sin was in not allowing the economy to fix itself; in accordance with a theory which wouldn't make sense to a child.  While progressives complain that Obama hasn't done more to force a reluctant Congress to stimuluate the economy while forcing Big Business and their Republican allies to eat shit.  And because of that, there can be no good news.


Mike Goldman said...

The REAL economy sucks.

Wall street is doing great, thanks. But not for long.

I give Obama credit though, he had the goal of propping up the old system awhile longer, and he did.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Uhh, Mike? If you're going to refute the main point of a post, you really should provide some sort of evidence. As it is, I could add your comment into this post as a fourth example of liberals dissing the good news. I could be mistaken, but I fear you may have fallen victim to the exact people I was complaining about.

Because, no, this DOESN'T appear to be a Wall Street GDP thing. According to Josh Bivens of the Economic Policy Institute (a link I found from a Krugman blogpost), 2.7 points of the GDP growth appears to have come from the stimulus, which would be real growth; not Wall Street growth.  And Krugman himself doesn't mention this being a fake growth thing either.  Rather, he says that the growth wasn't enough and that we probably needed a bigger stimulus bill; both ideas which I agree with completely.  And this WaPo article says that part of the growth is because businesses have finally started increasing their inventories again, which is a sign that they think things are improving.  So to suggest that this growth is somehow fake isn't supported by what I've seen.

Overall, it just sounds like you're falling victim to the progressive cynics who are trying to make this news sound worse than if no growth had occurred; as they insist that it's the same crooked people who got us into this are the only ones benefitting.  And if you could explain how building infrastructure and keeping teachers employed is propping up the "old system," I'm willing to listen.  But again, that just sounds like more of the "Obama is screwing up" stuff that I keep hearing from people who hate Obama because he isn't making Republicans eat shit every chance he gets.

Grants Specialist said...

Since I've been unemployed since July, and my search for work has been extremely fruitless, I take news about the economy very personally. I want the economy to improve, because if it doesn't then there won't be improved hiring or increasing tax receipts. I need to work, so I personally hope that growth improves enough for employers and local government to hire, and for there to be enough receipts to make a new stimulus politically feasible. As sweet as retribution might seem, a job would be much sweeter. Short sighted, I know.