Most of the news has been about Egypt and I really don't have much to say about that. I did hear that some Republican idiot has criticized Obama for not supporting the Egyptian protestors strongly enough. What a bunch of crap. I didn't stick around for the full story so I don't know which Republican idiot it was. If the protest had been ruthlessly put down the story would have been that we didn't support our dear friend and ally sufficiently. I do so wish that we could develop a new foreign policy which did not depend on poking our fingers so deeply into other countries' internal affairs. I wish I could believe that we are going to let the Egyptians settle their political matters by themselves--but I am absolutely sure that we won't.
As you can see, I didn't find much to say yesterday. Our news media is like a high-beam searchlight. We see a little bit of something before it moves on to something else. I wonder where it will go now.
I thought this HuffingtonPost entry this morning was really good. The teaser headline was 'promise impossible.' I wish I thought that some candidate would come up who would tell the electorate that he isn't promising anything because he couldn't be sure of delivering on those promises but I am sure that won't happen. Worse we have a bunch of blue-tinged or red-tinged chameleons who promise one thing to one group and another to the next and on down the line. They don't even acknowledge that their promises might be contradictory. We have that kind of a situation in Chicago now. One candidate proposed putting new taxes on some 'luxury' services while cutting the general sales taxes by 20%. He hasn't promised any specific changes--just changes. One of his opponents has slammed his proposed new services taxes while not mentioning the sals tax cut and promises to hire a thousand new police officers without saying how that would be paid for. The city has had to scramble for each of the last five years to close increasingly larger budget deficits so from what part of a shrinking budget does he get the money? Needless to say, he hasn't specified. I, for one, am heartily sick of this style of politics.
For the last month or so I have seen more frequent rumblings about 'doing something' about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. This post by Shahien Nasiripour on HuffingtonPost sums up the arguments and implications fairly well. I think the issue marks a definite change in our traditional thought about homeownership. The Federal Government created Fannie Mae in the midst of the Great Depression to help homeowners threatened with foreclosure and, by most accounts, did a fairly good job. Certainly a much better job than the Obama Administration's HAMP program. In the late 1960s Fannie was restructured as a private, government-sponsered enterprise and joined by Freddie Mac. Both institutions reflected a belief that wide spread homeownership was good for the society as a whole. Now I have to wonder if we, as a society, are still committed to that belief. Instead, like so many other fundamental values, the whole notion has been undermined by corrosive changes in our economy: mobility in the search for new opportunities, the widespread illusion that what went up (house prices) would never come down, the drive to make more money by pushing more mortgages of lower quality through the system, thirty years when real middle class income did not keep up with inflation, and the loss of millions of jobs that once paid a middle class income disappeared.