Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ruminations on the political realm:

one of the interesting things about the whole financial system crisis is that it is, perhaps, revealing/causing a change in public perception of the relationship between government and the economy. i feel like during our lifetime the general consensus has basically been that the republican free market agenda does maximize economic productivity. and that liberal leaning folks just believe that it is worthwhile to sacrifice a small degree of that economic productivity in order to preserve social welfare. the free market argument is that, in the long run, maximizing economic productivity improves everyone's standard of living; so why waste time/resources with "wasteful government programs" (like medicaid and unemployment).

accepting my assertion that this has been the "general consensus" most of our lives, i feel like it could be changing. in this time of genuine economic crisis, on the cusp of disaster, the american public wants the democrats to take over. the electorate believes the democratic candidate is the better guardian for the economy. and it's not like obama is running as a hard core protectionist or anything.

first and foremost this bodes well for obama's chances in this election. and obviously i'm happy about that, even as i'm worried about the future of the economy. but let's face it, if it wasn't for the economic crisis obama would be neck and neck with mccain. as it is, he's up 7-10% nationally.

but secondly, i ask you loyal readers, does this mean there has been a sea change in public opinion? could it be the regulation is no longer perceived by most americans as merely a hindrance to economic growth? that the new "general consensus" is that effective regulation fosters smarter, longer lasting growth? or is it just that the public believes the republicans are to blame because they have been in power?

i started thinking about this during a recent political exchange on facebook. a guy with a "nobama" image for his picture labeled obama as a socialist. skipping over my disagreement with the applicability of that label, i argued that the word "socialist" no longer has the stigma that it once did. in 1994 the republicans labeled "hillary care" as socialism, and thus quickly put the kibosh on it. in 2008, republicans rumble the same attacks, but it doesn't seem to take hold. is this just because the health care situation is that much more wretched, or is it also because "socialist" is not the burn it used to be. i feel like, as the years grow between us and the cold war, labeling something socialist is no longer a sure fire way to discount it. this will be all the more true in the future, as we spawn generations who have never lived in fear of the Evil Empire.

speaking of changes in perception, do you think military service will cease to have the same political cache in the future? in this case, i'm talking about the coming decades. as the last of the Greatest Generation dies off, when all the veterans are essentially from unpopular wars, will military services cease to be such a trump card in the political realm? those who serve in the military will always be respected, as they should be. but let's face it, at this point people who join the military are not always our best and brightest. our perceptions of military service are still shaped by the world war realities, when the super wealthy/super education eagerly volunteered for war. this reality has changed; will the perception change accordingly?


Blogger sauce said...

Right on, Mikey. Good stuff. By the way, I updated my blog for all to see my amazing insight into tonight's debate.

10/15/2008 10:23 PM  
Blogger kenniebloggins said...

Mr. Keene, there was once a draft. The best and brightest have rarely really wanted to join the military, unless they were preparing for a career as an officer. Maybe during the Civil War and I'll somewhat concede the World Wars, but I think this thing happened called Vietnam to change the public's perception.

That being stated, I really doubt many of our friends whom we all consider well-educated could ever have gotten into West Point, and most of us couldn't get into the AFA or the Naval Academy. I believe those people are classified as military, too.

10/16/2008 10:20 PM  
Blogger kenniebloggins said...

Also, you could probably best answer your questions by going home to Kennesaw and polling people randomly at one of the local strip malls. Or to Covington, Phenix City, or Oconee County, or fuck, the Buford Highway, for that matter.

10/16/2008 10:27 PM  
Blogger Huevos McGringo said...

i recognized that the military part of these questions was the most controversial/contentious. obviously vietnam was itself a "sea change" regarding military service. there was a draft, but most people with the means/connections found their way out of service. basically what i wonder is generations to come, who are raised by people born after vietnam, will have a different perception of military service. particularly in the political realm. but obviously there are still tremendously bright and promising people who join the military; we had a law school classmate who served in the army after graduating from harvard (where he played safety for the crimson).

i'm actually more interested in the other question. do you think socialism is less of dirty word than it was, say, 10 years ago? i definitely think so, and i think distance from the cold war is why.

10/17/2008 9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

honestly, man, i think i need you to clarify what you mean by public opinion before i really answer. do you mean the opinion of those who regularly read a newspaper of some sort or the opinion of those who, at most, get their news from one line headlines on cnn.com or foxnews.com. i'm not sure if the this demographic really know the real difference between protectionism and free trade, beyond the emotional responses that those terms may elicit. my opinion of barack has long been that as much protectionist rhetoric as he, at least early, spouted, he would come to his senses and strike a balance once in office. he's too smart not to. i suspect that now, in light of recent events, he'll lean a little further towards socialism, which is probably a good thing right now. and then, after this thing hopefully clears up, we'll move back towards the adam smith side of things, to a mid point. i don't really feel like the word socialism is really used that much, so i'm not sure if it's less of a dirty word. but i guess the ideas implied are a lot more easily accepted, even by people like john mccain, in times like these. not sure if i really came to close to responding to your question, but that's my 2cents

10/18/2008 8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that last, anonymous comment, was me.

10/18/2008 8:44 PM  
Blogger deuce deuce said...

i think words like socialism are vilified just as much as ever outside of left-leaning areas like athens or parts of the city of atlanta. the economy has tanked so badly so quickly though that some people are open to curbing the unregulated mess on wall street.

10/19/2008 9:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

on second thought, i think deuce deuce is probably more right than me, especially if you look at the torrent of phone calls that led up to the initial no-vote for the bailout. though that was seen as more handouts to the rich than it was seen as socialism.

10/19/2008 11:55 AM  

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