If Obama doesn't hire some smart people to help him soon, all his charm may not save us from an impending economic meltdown.
You know this, right? Myself, I'd rather be writing an essay comparing similar themes in the novels of Steve Brust and Matt Hughes. (Despotic corruption -> abuse of powerful sorcery, which destroys and reshapes the known world.) But my brain says that thinking about this economics stuff has to come first.
Loyal friends list (and others who get here from kindly-granted external links): if you haven't already read so much about the Obama Stimulus Package that your eyes glaze over, stay with me for a few more paragraphs.
The stimulus package that worked its way through the Senate has been shorn of its real power to address problems in the U.S. Economy. Stimulating the economy is not about more tax cuts. The way to avoid a depression is to fund industries and encourage scientific research that will create jobs and, ultimately, produce more wealth. (Spending *wisely* to keep credit markets open and assisting victims of the mortgage crisis are also useful tools. The solution for avoiding a depression is not giving more money to brokers-cum-bankers without having some control over what they do with it. We shouldn't have to watch some of those guys redistribute the money to themselves as bonuses and get away with that.)
If you don't believe me about the probable ineffectiveness of what Obama is currently planning to do, see here and here, for opinions from Atrios (who is also former Economics Professor Duncan Black, Ph.D: at London School of Economics, the Université catholique de Louvain, the University of California, Irvine, and, most recently, Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania.
I've held my tongue (or my keyboard, anyway) about all the Obama warning signs since the election. Some of my friends have expressed a joyous sense of celebration that we've elected a smart, wise man as President of the U.S. and ousted the Evil Ones. (I'll admit to feeling a lot of relief, myself, about those evil ones departing from the White House. So, thank you, all the Obama campaign workers and voters who made that possible.)
But wise hero? I wish he would show the courage to support the base that elected him instead of fearing that everything will break down without constant compromise. The message about torture and Guantanamo seems to have gotten across to him. He's trying to address that with more than lip service -- even if it's not working yet.
On the U.S. Economy he talks the talk without walking the walk. Why isn't he soliciting advice from people like the NYU faculty linked to above ("Smart People"), or from Paul Krugman?
Trying to be fair: a certain amount of blame for the flaws in the watered down stimulus package can be assigned to the Senate. But from what I've been able to extract, the package was disproportionately weighted toward tax cuts over "stimulus" investments to begin with.
[Boring plea] If you're a USAn, consider writing to your Senators and Representatives or Obama, himself.
I'm working 10-hour days, some days. I'm grateful for that and consider myself lucky to have the work. But what I'd really like to do is go back to worrying about Dan DiDio wrecking the DC Universe and publishing lousy comic books.
Additional Spacecrab recommendation: read The Sideshow every day. Thank you, Avedon!