| Main |
the calculated use of force against civillians in order to attain specific goals...,
presidential influence on the economy:
I seem to have had the following discussion a lot in the past year:
You bitch about the economy. Bush voter points out that presidents don't have much influence on the economy - which is true to the extent that they can't directly control business cycles. You point out that being in joint control with congress of the management of over 1/8th of the national GDP as well as from where that 1/8th is re-directed via taxes, as the head of state, are pretty significant cards to play in influencing the economy and more so where the burden or gains of said business cycles fall. Bush voter rejoinders that the recession (accordingly not Clinton's fault, see first point) and 9/11 are to blame for poor performance, not Bush's management, which they may still insist is - regardless of your previous point - not a very big influence on the economy.
The recession and 9/11 are fair enough - but what about, in the interests of avoiding an argument about vulgar supply-side economics and tax policy, Iraq? A destructive enterprise that's costing over 200 billion in borrowed money, a war the results of which sharply accelerated rising oil prices: "By invading Iraq, the Bush Administration has unwittingly helped to create what its National Energy Policy was designed to avoid: rising oil prices that threaten to derail the economic recovery". Bush voter defends this as necessary cost of national security/revenge because - for example - over 40% of the American public understands that Saddam planned 9/11. Digress hopelessly into argument over war until you find your way back to the economy, if you ever do:
Bush voter then argues that the worst is behind us and says essentially that "the economy is growing stronger and stronger". You respond that the economy is growing stronger and stronger only in terms of liquid corporate assets and not jobs and wages for humans, and that most reasonable people usually are
driven into the darkest nether regions of shrill unholy madness by the mendacity, malevolence, incompetence, or simple disconnection from reality of the George W. Bush administration whenever it says "the economy is growing stronger and stronger".
This double-argument from both fact and expert authority/analysis then completely and utterly fails, but I haven't been able to identify a unifying line of what one might call argument for how it fails: it might go from outright denial (sometimes via irrelevant factual detail: e.g. unemployment is down sure, but only because the employment-to-population ratio is down - we added a measely 96K jobs in September, a third of them government jobs, while 221,000 unemployed people stopped trying to find a job and sank into statistical oblivion) to argument by personal anology (my neighbors are doing great now) to more optimistic turning-the-corner talk ('wait for the trickle!'). If I were playing devil's advocate I'd shoot back at myself that Bush could only be partially blamed for dramatic long-term structural changes to the economy shifting the burden of risk from government and business to working Americans as part of planned and enacted bipartisan policy fueled by corporate manipulation of the political process, but I guess that'd give up the ghost.