Friday, February 27, 2009

More on Ruffini

I had some thoughts on a few other points in Mr. Ruffini's post. Mr. Ruffini claims that
Put another way, Republicans thrive as the party of normal Americans -- the people in the middle culturally and economically. This is true of our leadership as well -- we have a history of nominating figures who came first from outside politics. Our base is the common-sense voter in the middle who bought a house she could afford and didn't lavishly overspend in good times and who is now subsidizing the person who didn't.
But this is profoundly wrong. The Republican party would very much like to think of itself as the party of ordinary Americans, but their problem stems from the fact that their outreach to ordinary Americans has for so long been without substance. It has been no more than packaging. When it comes to questions of subsidies the Republican party is ready to throw any ordinary American overboard, no matter how common-sense the voter might be, should she have any degree of difficulty or problem. Yet, when it comes to the executives of major corporations whose business model is completely dependent upon sharing risk via incorporation, or who need copyrights protected, or trade deals with foreign nations or need to have guaranteed sole use of part of the radio spectrum, the Republican party is insistent that those services be provided at as low a charge as possible, preferably for free. This, to anyone of sense, is a subsidy. That they can do, again, however much it puts the burden of supporting these services upon our common-sense voter.

Mr. Ruffini goes on to say:
This sense of frugality, orderliness, and personal responsibility is something everything aspires to in difficult times. This is why Obama's pitch is fundamentally off-key if framed correctly. People's first instincts in a recession are not to overspend, but to tighten their belts.
But this again shows how the Republican party is out of step with the times and why they are no longer in a leadership position. Yes, indeed, it is the first instinct of most people to tighten their belts and this is what people do. That is what makes recessions bad. The nation will be much better off if people took this as a time to start spending. The belt tightening is what causes the pain. What is needed is a leader, a president say, or a political party, that can lead the country better than to follow our first instincts and worst judgment.

Mr. Ruffini goes on to say
Obama's address last night assumed that no one is responsible for anything, except maybe corporate CEOs. The banks as institutions are not ultimately responsible. People who took out risky mortgages are not responsible. The Administration is not responsible for sharing in the pain by postponing longer-term projects like health care. And even if they are, everything in a recession is subsumed to the need to throw money at the problem in an attempt to stabilize the system. The risk for Obama in embracing the bailout mentality is that it catches up to you: this is not how ordinary people act in their daily lives without major consequences down the road.
but this is simply not true. Obama did not say that no one is to blame, rather he spread blame around quite liberally. Rather the distinction is Mr. Ruffini's conservative habit of insisting that those in charge (the corporate CEO) cannot be to blame. Given this attitude (which is ruinous to both responsibility and to a free society) Mr. Ruffini is offended that the CEO is blamed at all and responds as if all the blame were placed on this one individual. That simply was not done.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home