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Why, oh why, can't we have better public intellectuals?

There's a fauxtroversy among The Good Professors -- Thoma, DeLong, Krugman, and Black -- about a story* that Team Obama sat down, one day before the election, to figure out whether DISemployment is structural or cyclical. Thoma is shockedMR SUBLIMINAL Shocked!, DeLong says the story is a lie and there was general agreement on policy, Black asks what is that policy, then, and Krugman (via) sighs "If only the Czar had better advisors..." But each professor frames the problem (if there is a problem) at the level of discourse: Thoma ("The administration is still allowing the other side [they're the same side!] to take control of policy debates"), DeLong ("Can we please get the White House back on message?"), Krugman ("What I want to know is, who was arguing for structural?"), and Black ("Saying there was general agreement within the economics team is not the same thing as saying that they had united around some policy proposal that the communications team could reasonably sell.")

Well, the keys these drunks are looking for aren't under the lamp post of discourse, even though that's where the light is. The keys are back in the bar, by the cash register, where the political economy is. The whole controversy is faux, because:

1. If Obama decided to take a major meeting on DISemployment policy one day before the election, that means that DISemployment wasn't a priority for him in the election.

2. That implies that Obama is perfectly happy with 10% nominal (20% real) DISemployment as far as the eye can see; indeed, his press secretary, Ari Gibbs, has said as much.

3. In fact, 10% nominal (20% real) DISemployment is the preferred policy option in our elites, of both legacy parties. You know that because the policy option that would solve DISemployment, a Jobs Guarantee, isn't even on "the table."

At some point, the best test of intention becomes outcomes. Obama's not into reducing DISemployment because his policy is to normalize it (just as with everything else Bush did). We get conservative policies from Obama because he is a conservative. It's not a question of discourse. It's a question of cui bono: Political economy.

Will one of our good professors ever recognize this? Or say it? Dr. Black?

NOTE * From one Richard Wolfe in the LA Times, who has just published a book on the Obama administration. Coincidentally.

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Submitted by jawbone on

aka disemployment, is a given and will be with us for a long, long time.

Came across this from a blog named I Cite:

September 15, 2010
Poverty in America: 2010

The Obama administration has responded to reports of an epidemic growth of poverty in America to levels not seen since the 1960s by categorically ruling out any anti-poverty programs like those initiated under the administration of Lyndon B. Johnson.

In the midst of a week-long campaign of speeches and events aimed at packaging the administration’s pro-corporate policies as populist measures to aid the “middle class,” Obama exhibited callous indifference to the suffering of millions of Americans when he was queried at his Friday press conference about possible anti-poverty measures.

A reporter asked, “On the economy, could you discuss your efforts at reviewing history as it relates to the poverty agenda, meaning LBJ and Dr. King?”

“I think the history of anti-poverty efforts,” Obama replied, “is that the most important anti-poverty effort is growing the economy… It’s more important than any program we could set up. It’s more important than any transfer payment we could have.”

This could not have been more clear: No anti-poverty programs. Instead, in words that could have been spoken by Reagan, Thatcher or any other reactionary free-market ideologue, Obama insisted that the only basis for alleviating poverty was “economic growth,” i.e., the growth of corporate profits.

On Sunday, White House economic adviser Austan Goolsbee repeated the same mantra. He was asked on the ABC news program This Week about the poverty rate rising “to 15 percent, back to 1960s levels, which led to the national war on poverty.”

“I think the number one thing you can do to address poverty also is the way you address unemployment and the way you address the squeeze of the middle class, that is to get the economy growing and get people back to work,” Goolsbee responded. “Let’s get the private sector stood up so that they can, you know, carry us out of this.”

This sums up the basic social and economic policy of the Obama administration:....


And I'm sure if I had time I would find similar statements and indications much earlier.

It's how conservatives like Obama think.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

FDL had a book salon with Matt. A commenter pointed to a remark of his in "Griftopia":

Fm Page 197: “Obama’s campaign deceptions on health care were both incredibly specific and grossly serial in nature, and are suggestive not of an idealistic politician who was forced to change course once reality set in but of one who spearheaded a comprehensive, intentional, campaign strategy to buy votes with empty promises”

Submitted by Randall Kohn on