(I'm thinking of the messy red stuff, a good image to describe our domestic economy, and also the fact that I've been remiss in commenting on recent political news.)
Why Isn't Capital Making Jobs Here?
This is, more or less, the theme of a discussion on the business social network Linked In, to which I contributed the following post:
Unfortunately, there is no law of economics that means everyone who wants a decent job can get one, even in times of prosperity. We have raised productivity and outsourced jobs to the point that I see an oversupply of labor--under any government--for the next 15 years or so (until the Baby Boomers are largely out to pasture). It is true that the cost of medical benefits to employers means less will be employed; this is nothing new, though, and we failed to fix this problem with the health care insurance reform.
We can't spend our way out of this--the 2009 program was the best we could do, politically, in a crisis, and it wasn't enough. Tax cuts to create jobs are a joke, it wasn't even funny in the '000's (job market was weak, held up temporarily by wars, building houses we didn't need, and phony mortgages), and the party out of power is selling the same snake oil in the same bottle with a new label.
Here are three things I think could help on the margin:
1) A government-and-bank-supported effort to reclaim and restore foreclosed homes in ravaged neighborhoods.
2) Make a low-cost catastrophic health care insurance plan available to all (a/k/a the public option) so people can live on part-time jobs; and
3) Reduce future entitlement liabilities by making Medicare benefits taxable, and by allowing people going into well-funded retirement to give up their Social Security benefits in exchange for unused Federal land in trust (a new homesteading program).
While Playing Golf...
Here are some points the President might make with his orange-hued playing partner:
1) We are going to make a proposal that is going to revitalize the states that are hardest hit by the recession (see #1 above). It will be very popular, and you will oppose it at your peril. If you go along, we will all benefit.
2) We have some major suggestions to reduce future deficits (see #2 above), including $500 billion or more in defense spending, totalling some $2 billion, which will take this off the table until 2013. Again, you will oppose them at your peril, because we are prepared to take steps to prevent default and keep the government running indefinitely without an increase in the debt limit, but it will destroy your party's political fortunes.
3) We will consult with you on the Libya campaign, but a vote is not required, and we will ignore any measure that ties the hands of NATO in the program. We look to wrap it up within 60 days, one way or another.
4) We are close to a political deal in Afghanistan, and the troop withdrawals are going to be very real.
Mitt and the Seven Dwarfs
I have to admit that I couldn't watch the Republican Presidential debate the other night--it was too much for me to stand. So I'll take the word of those who watched it that Romney won (by not losing), Pawlenty missed his big chance to lay mitts on, and Bachmann emerged as the purest anti-Romney, anti-Obama, anti-government Tea Party-type candidate. Fine.
I recommend Larry Sabato's recent column handicapping the candidates--Sabato's a political scientist with moderate to conservative leanings, but on something like this is very reliable and well-informed. So I will accept his point of view that Ron Paul's support is too much on the margins of the party primary electorate to be a serious threat to Romney, that Cain (who I see as a black redneck, if such a thing is possible) will yield his support to Bachmann if she takes the early lead with a strong performance in Iowa.
Fine. I would still say that there is an opening for a major entrant, and it looks to me that it will be Rick Perry (not Palin, not Christie). I have to say that this disturbs me more than a little, and I will not dismiss his chances by saying what should be obvious--we've seen his like before, and we're just starting to recover from it. Perry's popularity in Texas is at a peak now--2016 will be too late for him--he's got the bug to run, he'll get Bushite money, and his story might just gull the voters yet again, even in the general election. So, I see the race as being Romney and Bachmann leading early, Perry trying to break in before South Carolina, and Romney and Perry being a very typical high-forehead white-guy Republican nomination battle.
As for the VP nominee, whoever the Presidential nominee will be, I think he/she/it will choose Marco Rubio. I think it's clear he would take the job, add value to the ticket (in Florida, and with Hispanics), and any nominee would be crazy not to choose him.
Now, I was originally thinking of the race as Mitt and the Seven Dwarfs: Cain, Bachmann, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul, Pawlenty, and Huntsman. But, in trying to cast the original (Gingich is Grumpy, or maybe Doc, Huntsman--the last guy to appear--Sleepy, etc.) it occurs to me that Bachmann is actually better cast as Snow White (with Palin as the Wicked Stepmother, who will bring a poisoned apple to her at some point--a tainted endorsement?), and Romney is really one of the dwarfs (Dopey?) Then there's Perry, Prince Charming, who would come to S.W.'s rescue when her campaign becomes paralyzed, winning the nomination and rides off into the sunset with her riding behind as the V.P. It works better--as an analogy, as a dramatic plot--but is it realistic? Then again, the GOP has been living in a fantasy world for quite a while.