Monday, February 16, 2009

Failed Letter to the Carroll County Times

This wasn't published, so why not publish it here? It's in response to this editorial.

Like Rick Blatchford I was dismayed at the appointment of Timothy Geithner to Secretary of the Treasury, albeit for different reasons. Geithner comes from the selfsame free market school of thought as Obama’s Director of the National Economic Council Larry Summers (his mentor). He worked for the IMF and Kissinger & Associates - names infamous to many third world countries suffering under the burden of Chicago School economics today. In short, Geithner has traditionally been a part of the ultra-rich boys-club problem that he’s now been tasked with solving. His appointment, like Summers appointment under Clinton, has signified to many that Obama’s administration will mirror our last democratic president‘s: Say change with the right hand, keep doing the same old thing with the left. I hope I’m wrong.

However, Geithner’s tax problems are hardly cause to begin questioning the integrity of the system. They’re par for the course. Under the Bush administration Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld refused to sell his holdings in Gilead Sciences, which were valued between $8mn and $39mn. During Rumsfeld’s time, however, the Pentagon purchased $58mn worth of Gilead’s Tamiflu product. There is, too, the matter of Vice President Cheney’s holdings in Halliburton, which were slightly better reported. That company saw a 300% increase in the price of its stocks as the result of the Iraq war, which Cheney was instrumental in engineering. Was media coverage for the problems of these Bush administration officials any more or less than the coverage for Geithner or Daschle’s problems? Not really. It all came up quietly and slipped out the back door quickly on both sides.

The problem here isn’t one of democrats vs. republicans. It’s a problem of the same tired, corrupt choices being flashed before our eyes as if they’re the only ones. Senators Mikulski and Cardin aren’t going to solve these problems, as they’ve proved time and time again from their automated message responses and cookie-cutter lists of issues. Real change will come when equal press time is given to third and fourth party candidates, when real issues are discussed in debates, and when Americans can be prodded to the polls in truly great numbers. When that happens, maybe our political elects will realize that if they don’t listen to us, they’ll be looking for a job next time around, instead of riding the wave to their next million dollar entitlement.

4 comments:

Sean said...

I actually do have some art/culture type blogs planned. I swear.

Meanwhile, check out Paul Krugman bashing the rest of the world: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/09/opinion/09krugman.html?_r=1&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss

greg said...

"Suffering under chi. school" -- Would you include India, China, Singapore as "sufferers"; who through deregulation, trade, & opening private markets; coached by economic advisers from that school created the largest human movement from poverty to middle class in world history... or do you just read polemics and throw around buzz words you think you have learned the meaning of...

Sean said...

Greg:

Thank you for your comments.

As a matter of fact I would include the experience of those countries in my estimation of free market theory as practiced by the Chicago School.

The CIA world fact book states that India maintains highly protectionist policies regarding agriculture and food, keeping prices artificially low. Despite this fact, much of the population can expect to spend 80% of its income on food and India itself estimates that 77% of its population lives in abject poverty.

China and Singapore both maintain extremely high levels of income inequality, with Gini indexes of 46.9% and 42.5% respectively. 34.9% of China lives in poverty.

These statistics, of course, say nothing about the human rights abuses that accompany these policies, as governments put down rebellions from citizens who see their cost of living rise as foreign investors move in - with little visible benefit to themselves. Such abuses are disturbingly common in countries "coached" by the Chicago School and this is where a large part of the suffering I mention comes in to play. For instance, the countries you mention utilize vast reserves of slave - or near slave - labor to help bolster their GDP. Additionally, thanks to deregulation, they have poisoned the air and earth on which those poverty stricken people (and you and I) rely. Who knows the extent of suffering that will cause in the future?

Sure, I'll admit that free markets do help some people; however, the people they help the most are always the rich. It's important to note that just because some people benefit from a system does not mean that others do not suffer for it. Adolf Hitler brought his country from abject poverty to near world domination in a few short years. Using your logic one could say that this is a perfectly acceptable and even desirable thing - which is, of course, a horrible argument.

But none of this has anything to do with the fact that the IMF and Kissinger & Associates are infamous to many of the third world countries suffering under Chicago School economics today . . . which is what I said.

Patrick said...

Burn.