Thursday, September 04, 2008

In Fairness

In fairness, I should note that while I was listening to Sarah Palin's speech and doing a running mental rebuttal soundtrack in my head, I had the same experience when listening to Hillary Clinton's speech at the DNC last week. Clinton's speech was really good in the beginning and in the end, but there was definitely a chunk in the middle where my cognitive dissonance was ringing. Here are some excerpts of Clinton's speech and my inner soundtrack:
We need to elect Barack Obama because we need a President who understands that America can't compete in a global economy by padding the pockets of energy speculators, while ignoring the workers whose jobs have been shipped overseas. We need a President who understands that we can't solve the problems of global warming by giving windfall profits to the oil companies while ignoring opportunities to invest in new technologies that will build a green economy.
Er, no. I was hoping we would elect Barack Obama because we need a President who will tell us what we need to hear and not what we want to hear. Energy speculation isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it helps buffer against worse shortages in the future. Outsourcing is a part of economic efficiency, it's called comparative advantage, and it's not a bad thing when new jobs are created abroad at the same time as better jobs are created at home. (Anyone who needs Economic Literacy 101 can try John Stossel's recent book.) Trying to tax so-called windfall profits isn't going to accomplish anything except to encourage large multinational energy companies to shift more of their tax base to more favorable nations and to discourage them from developing future energy sources. We need a President who will not pander to misguided populist economic illiteracy.
And I can't wait to watch Barack Obama sign a health care plan into law that covers every single American.
Sorry, Senator, but Obama's plan does not cover every single American, and that was one of the substantive differences that makes his plan better than yours.
John McCain says the economy is fundamentally sound. John McCain doesn't think that 47 million people without health insurance is a crisis. John McCain wants to privatize Social Security. And in 2008, he still thinks it's okay when women don't earn equal pay for equal work.
Our economy is fundamentally sound. The gas price speculation bubble seems to have burst, housing prices are in the process of correcting themselves, and by all economic measures I know of (e.g., GNP growth, unemployment rate, inflation rate), it's not the best of times, but it's hardly the worst of times. People who don't recognize fundamentally sound economies when they're living in one need to take a closer look at Zimbabwe or Venezuela or Burma to recalibrate.

Our health insurance system needs improvement, but citing scare numbers (how many of those 47 million intentionally choose not to have health insurance?) and calling it a crisis doesn't help. Social Security, on the other hand, well that is a crisis. I don't think privatization is the answer, but sticking your head in the sand and saying "everything's fine, everything's fine" isn't either. And if we essentially expand Medicare, that will be a bigger crisis. And the equal pay for equal work canard -- if you could truly get equally competent women for 75 cents on the dollar for men doing the same job, why aren't there entrepeneurs out there exploiting that huge opportunity?

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