Sunday, January 28, 2018

Two Stories Perfectly Illustrate Our Deadlock

1/28/2018—Two stories in today’s New York Times perfectly illustrate America’s weird dysfunctional state. First, the good news: all sectors of the world economy are growing for the first time in years—since the 2008 recession and even before—thus lessening for the moment the centrifugal forces that had been tearing people apart, including Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. (This good news does not extend to coal and steel in western Pennsylvania, reports the Tribune Review, but who really thought they would recover?) In particular, estimates for 2018 growth in the US have gone up from 2.3% to 2.7%. That change adds around $720 billion to the economy.

Now, the bad news. The New York Times also reports that Congress is in complete collapse. Partisan deadlock.

This really makes no sense. Republicans should be jubilant. They are getting exactly what they predicted from the tax cut bill and from the anti-regulatory policies of the Administration. Trump is a bad man, but basically so what?

Democrats should also be happy basically because this expansion is based on Obama Administration growth. It’s good, but it shows that there are real limits to economic growth. The small additional growth is being purchased by irresponsible policies, like tax cuts that will increase the deficit and more oil and gas that will worsen global warming, that are not sustainable. But even with these bad policies, the ridiculous promise of 4% growth is not attainable.

Arguable, but not the end of the world.

Besides, the Democrats should have been able to say they supported the only good thing in the tax cut bill—lower corporate rates that President Obama proposed and the Republicans stonewalled. We could have had higher growth for years if Republicans had put their country ahead of their politics.

So, everybody has some good news.

The reason for the gloom is simply that we have no hope. No underlying vision of a better world. No common ground to enjoy being Americans together. Too many of us, not all but many, hate too many others of us.

What has to change is the way we view reality. More on that change later.

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