#425 – Dick Bernard: Wrapping up the weeks news

Our evening news of choice is CBS with Scott Pelley. Like most folks, perhaps, my viewing is rather casual, not intense. In 30 minutes, there is perhaps 20 minutes of actual “news” and this is broken down into a number of segments. The rest is advertising, which a cynic might say is the only real reason for news programs these days….
But Friday nights program had several segments which drew my attention and seemed directly related and troubling indicators of the disease affecting our country at this point in history. You can watch the entire program at the link in this paragraph.
There was a piece about the U.S. economy at a still dead place: 9 % unemployment; actual rate 16% if you factor in those who’ve given up. This is tied, of course, to President Obama and how it will affect his reelection plans.
Another segment was a small business owner who wasn’t hiring because he wasn’t sure of the future stability of our economy. After all, you can’t hire people just for the sake of hiring them. This has been a repetitive ‘talking point’ about why business won’t step up to the plate in this crisis. Subtext: the business of business is to make money, not save the country.
Worker productivity is way up – 50% higher if I recall correctly; business is awash in cash, accompanied by the same hand-wringing as that of the small business owner.
And a segment about the 17 large financial institutions that are being sued by the government for their complicity in the real estate fraud that was a large factor in nearly bringing our economy down three years ago this month. Of course, they are “innocent until proven guilty”, but their crime is not petty theft, but billions upon billions of dollars which taxpayers have had to cover.
Will justice be done?
When push comes right down to shove, the only one made to wear the hair shirt is President Obama. This is the hardly invisible background noise in all of this. If only he would do this, that or the other, all would be better; as if all of the obstruction and inaction and, yes, fraud, of the political and economic players make no difference in the equation.
It is totally absurd. We sit idly by and take it.
Somewhere towards the end of this news program, came some seconds of coverage of the conflict in Libya, in the process of regime change.
There was a 30 second segment at some port facility in Libya where huge cubes of new Libyan cash had been off-loaded fresh from the printing presses in Britain, the place where Libyan money is apparently minted. It can be seen at roughly 17:20 – 17:50 in the CBS news program referred to.
The reporter Barry Peterson was commenting on this money: it is there to “go into peoples pockets…they get the money, the spend the money, the economy perks up, everybody’s going to feel a little bit better“. His remarks are worth watching.
What a novel idea. Put money into people’s hands – not Qadaffi’s – so that the economy can recover….
Why are we so reluctant to try something like this in the United States, during this time of struggle?

There are, of course, easy answers to this: recovery, people back at work, will make it more likely that President Obama will be reelected. To his enemies, the decision makers in Congress, and the captains of Big Business and Industry as well (which he previously had saved), priority one is getting him out of office. The greater the human cost for American workers and their families, the better for those who want to replace him.
As Labor Day approaches, we remain by far the wealthiest nation in the world.
We are squandering our riches, and we will all end up as big losers.
UPDATE Sep. 4: Today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune has a worth-reading column by Johnathan Alter. It is here.

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