Politics Of What If?

In a recent article in the New Statesman, Alan Johnson offers a perspective centered in “what if the Labor government had not dealt with economic reality by providing bail out money to troubled banks and other institutions?” It is the same argument advanced by President Obama. The argument essentially claims that if bail out money had not been provided, if government had not spent money, the current economic dislocation would have been much more severe. Obama continually tries in his quiet manner to get across the idea, “if you think things are bad now, wow, you should see what they would be if we hadn’t bailed out banks and other financial institutions.” There is economic reality to this argument, but Obama misses a point. If the US government was going to bail out business and banking, then the US government had a right to impose limits on CEO salaries and to demand that institutions further the public good. Unfortunately, in America financial leaders want help and then they want to tell the government which saved their butts it can go to hell. This is the politics of “screw you” because I am the only important player in life.

Obama never explained the financial programs he proposed anymore than he explained his health care program. He is as much responsible for misinformation as are the cynical leaders of our business world. Obama has to stand up to these liars and arrogant masters of our world and let them know if you want help, then you must pay the price.