I read a lot of blogs in my spare time, and one of my favorites is the Monkey Cage, a blogging consortium made up of technocratic, internationalist-minded Left-wing political science professors. They rarely disappoint. I know what you’re thinking, but if I could choose which faction of the left I would want opposing libertarian policies it would be the technocratic Left. It a movement that has individual liberty in mind and is, as I mentioned, internationally-minded.
Notice also how I take into account the fact that an opposition to my own views are a necessary component of my utopia. Too many advocates of liberty don’t realize this when they argue about politics. Which factions would play the role of opposition in an anarcho-capitalist paradise, for example? It seems to me that the quality of one’s perfect opposition is actually quite a good gauge for measuring the quality of one’s political ideal (if I do say so myself!).
Anyway, Patrick Egan, of NYU, has a new post up explaining that the economy was indeed the central issue of the election, and then busts out the data to back up his argument (and help me save face!). I think this is an important point because I’ve already made the rounds around the blogosphere and many otherwise smart, competent people seem to want to chalk up Obama’s victory to something other than the economy.
From Egan’s post:
Barone’s analysis [a “smart, competent” person] sums up much of the conventional wisdom about the results of the 2012 presidential election that has crystallized among pundits across the political spectrum. Most versions of their explanations go something like this: the fundamentals were in the Republicans’ favor, but the Democrats overcame them with better ads, a better “ground game,” successful appeals to a racially diverse electorate, or a better candidate.
These observations make for interesting and colorful post-mortem accounts of the campaign, but they start from a premise that happens to be false. By September, the fundamentals had improved enough to make Obama a slight favorite.
The “fundamentals” Egan is referring to are “the economy,” broadly stated. Here is the bad news, though, and think about why it’s such bad news for a minute after reading:
The growth rate between January and September of 2012 averaged 1.8 percent.
I’m not one to complain about such a low growth rate in an already rich and prosperous state. This seems totally normal, but I am going to complain about my fellow Americans lack of optimism here. How on earth can the American people settle for a 1.8% growth rate, even if it is standard for states as rich and prosperous as the US?
I have yet to find any analysis on the unemployment rate either. Unemployment actually jumped up a tick just before the elections to 7.9%, and this is not a bad rate when one takes a gander across the globe, but this is also an official rate and doesn’t incorporate workers who have given up or have been looking for an extended period of time.
There is also no evidence whatsoever that the stimulus packages have worked. I am beginning to think that the stimulus packages were nothing more than political ploys. That is, something for politicians to show to the American people that they were indeed “doing something”. A few hundred billion dollars isn’t all that much money when you control people’s lives through taxation and monopoly. Don’t bother letting me know that when politicians do something it means bad results. Bother yourselves instead by asking if politicians were merely responding to incentives. Does the majority of American society now expect politicians to do something during an economic crisis? If this is the case, then we have our work cut out for us.
So my question in regards to the economy and the re-election of an incompetent buffoon is this: have the American people begun to settle for something other than the best? Or is this something that older observers have been seeing since they were young men and women?