Thursday, January 15, 2009

Floored. Read to the end.

The amazing Billmon had a piece earlier this week that has a simply jaw-dropping conclusion. I won't spoil the fun, but the piece is about how Russians weren't inclined to look at past crimes in the Soviet era, and wondering if something very similar isn't underway here.

There is just a yawning disconnect between the nature of the crimes allegedly committed (and, in many cases, essentially admitted): waging aggressive war, torture, secret prisons, illegal wiretapping on a massive scale, obstruction of justice, perjury, conspiracy -- to the point where it would probably take an army of Patrick Fitzgeralds and a full-time war crimes tribunal a year just to catalogue them all -- and how the story is being treated in the corporate media.

Read it all. To the end.

Jobs. Now.

We are at the end of a decades-long jobs crisis. The only way out is to ensure that every American who needs a job can get one. And that the jobs that are available will pay enough to cover decent housing, food, transport, health care, etc.

Tax cuts will not do it (as we have amply demonstrated over many, many years. Government "infrastructure" plans, as now discussed, are simply too little to make the difference we need.

The federal government needs to take the lead in direct job creation. To me, success will occur when there is a jobs center in every town in the nation where anyone can go to get an actual job. If that means the government has to create some "make-work" jobs so be it. But I think we could get to work addressing any number of our crucial chalenges right now: alternative energy, education that works, affordable housing. All of these require a lot of work, and we have a lot of people who need work. The market has failed to re-allocate these people to these needs; the government has to step in and short-circuit a process that the private sector either cannot do, or will take decades to do.

At some point, the government can sell of the assets it will have created, and can use the proceeds to start to pay down the government's debt.

That's the end-game. Everything else we do -- keep Citibank afloat, give Detroit money to make cars no one wants, give consumers checks for $300, etc. -- is just pushing peas around on our plate.

We need large and decisive moves, and we need them yesterday.

Friday, January 02, 2009