Monday, October 27, 2008

A New "New Deal"?

I heard a piece on NPR today that described Franklin D. Roosevelt's run against Hoover in 1932. Public sentiment was so sour on republicans that virtually anyone calling himself (not herself) a democrat would have been a shoo-in for election. Consequently, Roosevelt didn't have to outline much in the way of his policy preferences during the campaign. In fact, the term "New Deal" was coined in his very last speech and the contents of the "deal" were not specified. Could this be the Obama strategy? We've not heard much detail from him, either.

So, what have we heard from Obama? His health care plan...his education plan...his energy plan...his economic plan. All pretty simple, plain vanilla, clearly "not Bush's failed plan". But the devil really is in the details. Will Obama come out slugging, democrat congress in tow, with some big ideas? Maybe. Maybe there will be a new "New Deal". But what will it be?

As the Trail Diary has been bemoaning for a long time, the United States of America is facing some really major challenges. We've got structural issues of immense proportions - giant unfunded liabilities, millions of poorly educated younger adults and children, an aging population with expectations of unlimited health care, and billions of dollars daily being sent overseas to purchase stuff we burn up. And now, horror of horrors, we need to address these issues in the midst of an economic calamity. Poor Obama!

Perhaps now is the time to turn over some really big stones, to put the cards on the table for America to look at and choose. There is no win, win, win, win solution. We're facing the age-old problem of resource allocation, guns or butter. Perhaps there are a few magic bullets, like priming the economy by building a new energy infrastructure or mobilizing an army of unemployed oldsters to tutor the young. But, there must be some big give-ups, too. And that's the rub.

Here are a few questions for your consideration. Can some public pensions and benefits be almost as outrageous as outsize Wall Street salaries? Should wealthy people get hefty medical and social security benefits? Is it really appropriate to warehouse oldsters with severe Alzheimers or dementia, treat their every medical condition with modern medicine, and watch them sit, listless and semi-comatose, for years until something big finally kills them? Should managers of large public companies be compensated like owners, even though they own little of the firms they manage? Are the laws covering personal injury and corporate liability overly tilted toward the plaintiffs, many of whom failed to exercise good judgement?

I'm hoping Obama wins "big-time", but I'm expecting him to live up to his promises for change. I want change that goes past shoveling out goodies to the poor and middle class, because doing only those things will bankrupt our country. I want structural change that will benefit our country for a century. I want a president who has the guts to lay it out, step by step, and push change through, problem by problem. If Obama can do that, he'll go on the same pedestal as Washington, Lincoln, and Roosevelt II. Go for it, Barack!


Ron Davison said...

LH! We won!
What a speech, eh?

1138 said...

Hope Wins!