[Previous] [Main Index] [Next]

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MODERATES VS. IDEOLOGUES IN ECONOMIC THEORY VS. THE POLITICS OF POLICYMAKING

Today's Buggy Topic Is Reflected . . .

accurately enough in two bugged out posts left in a couple of different threads at Economist's View,  where the economics professor who runs the blog, Mark Thoma of Oregon, is much more balanced and moderate in his own commentaries than the habitual 9 or 10 posters (a few of whom seem to be professors or ex-professor too) who hog about 80% of the posts in every thread.  They are left-wing liberals and social-democrats or radical Marxist socialists full of anger and discontent with the Obama administration, said by them to have sold-out to the dominant corporate, financial, and military-industrial Oligarchy in charge of the American economy.

Prof bug's stuff can be found if you click first here and then here . . . the latter post more or less a repeat of an earlier buggy commentary left at the same web-site. 

Keep  Something in Mind

The nature of American government --- split into three branches at the center, federal in nature as well, and subject as all democracies to shifts in public opinion when political leaders are expected to sometimes do the impossible in both domestic and foreign policies --- exerts pressure to push policymaking toward a compromised center-position.  And this is the case despite an increasingly polarized public opinion in elections that has increasingly pitted seculars vs. religious voters, red-states vs. blue-states, and liberals vs. conservatives not just on the role of the government in market-economics, but also over a host of morally charged cultural and social issues.  If anything, as prof bug's second post shows by referring to two outstanding articles by political science specialists in elections and public opinion, economic controversies have themselves become moralized, with all the consequences that moral conflicts entail.

True Even of the Last Decade

That was true, for instance, of George W. Bush's two administrations. 

When you get down to it, about the only major piece of economic policies that got passed --- his tax cuts after the 2001 recession --- were then followed by his later back-down over changing social security in his second administration.  If he's to be faulted over his handling of the economy, it was in the kinds of regulators he appointed to most oversight groups in charge of the financial industry . . . a huge, inexcusable fault as it turned out, with which harmful outcomes we're still living with.   That leaves foreign and military policies --- especially Iraq.  Almost all Democrats in Congress went along with the 2003 military intervention and occupation of Iraq, only for them and many Republicans no doubt to learn how feckless and simpleminded the planned occupation turned out to be: a mishmash of over-optimism and best-case analysis . . . all this, remember, for a war that was a matter of choice and not necessity and one that prof bug supported only to be dismayed at the Panglossian pipe-dream stuff that passed for policymaking by the Bush team.

Has the Obama administration over the last 19 months been much different?

Not if you believe the habitual left-wing posters at Economist's View . . . so-called apostate turning out to be a tool of the assumed elites controlling American politics and economics.  In fact, amid the largest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s --- and a global financial meltdown; amid moreover 90% of American public opinion that in 2008 said in opinion surveys that the country was on the wrong track and its economy especially so (vs. the opposite 90% at the end of the Clinton administration in 2000), the Obama administration was able to pass several initiatives that he tried to get Republican support for, only to fail and still rely on the large Democrats majorities in both houses of Congress.  Most likely, his health-care initiative followed by the recent financial regulations --- all passed in a brief 18-month period.