Robert Cramer has a good post on HuffingtonPost this morning. And anyone who voted for Obama and is disappointed and thinking of sitting out the mid-term elections should read it. If the last two years have been disappointing just think of the 8 years before that and think of what the next two years will be like if the Repthuglicans gain more seats. I saw one idiot conservative pundit blowing hot air this last week about how the Democrats can't put any blame on them because the Democrats have such an overwhelming majority they could steam roll the opposition and cram through anything they wanted. That ignores the supermajority needed for cloture in the Senate--which the Republicans have used shamelessly. Cramer is also right on the philosophical differences between the two--top down economics vs. bottom up. I would go further though--our economy has operated on top down principle for the last 60 years. The business model has been to churn out as much of anything as possible because people would buy it in almost unlimited quantities. And if demand faltered launch a new advertising campaign to drum up demand. That is a model that works only as long as prosperity penetrates well down the economic pyramid. Normally, that prosperity depends on a large number of people having good jobs that pay them enough to meet their basic needs and to buy some luxuries. But for at least the last forty years we have had an illusion of a broadly based prosperity. It was maintained not by real wage increases but by debt, especially home equity debt and credit card debt. Trickle-down, or supply side, economics does not work when people simply don't have the money to spend--when the prosperity doesn't reach far down the pyramid. Cramer cites Kevin Philips' Wealth and Democracy which is a very good book. But I would suggest that people start with Philips' Boiling Point to understand the decimation of the middle class since the 1980s. Now Boiling Point was published about 15 years ago but it is amazing how many of the trends Philips identified then have only intensified in the intervening time.
There is another factor people should think about: Throughout history, political power has followed economic power. Remember the famous quip from the King in the Wizard of Id on the Golden Rule--he who has the gold rules. How long do you think our democratic republic will last as large numbers of the once prosperous middle and working classes sink into poverty while more and more of the income and wealth is concentrated in the upper 2-5%. Read the latest statistics and 'be afraid--be very afraid.'
Mark Morford has an excellent and entertaining post today. I don't know how often we have looked up from what ever reading or puzzle working or needlework we were doing to see yet another 'reality' show being hawked on tv. (Note: we rarely waste our time by just watching tv.) We can't really get away from this trend. Even our favorite channels, SyFy and History have the bug. All we can do is refuse to watch. Even the ads are annoying. But Morford makes a very good point: the extremism of the 'reality' shows is part and parcel of an extremism that has permeated our culture. Moderation has gone out the window. And, frankly, just trying to avoid it as much as possible is both irritating and exhausting.